The bicycle and good manners

I saw an accident on my way to work last week. A cyclist powering along on his way, overtaking on the inside, as cyclists tend to do. Then a car travelling in the same direction but slightly slower, suddenly turned in front of him and struck him, without indicating. The cyclist was hurled by his own momentum across the road junction and landed painfully on the pavement, dazed and clutching his arm. What an assault on a finely tuned athlete! What a threat to his innocent life! How dare people drive dangerous machines so recklessly.

Accidents do happen. But two wrongs don’t make a right. We need manners that have never been taught before. Not the manners of deference, or a lack of it to the great and the good. Not manners of haute cuisine, that end up as show without substance. Not manners of haute couture that silk over unwashed bottoms. Not manners of ritual and intrigue or treachery, where might is basically right.

We need simple clear cut manners. We put children first. The strong help the weak. The powerful show respect to the small and fragile. The human tends and nurtures our planet.

The language is moderate at the beginning of a relationship. Pornography, trafficking and woman beating are recognised as after-shocks of world wars and colonialism, where blind -isms obliterated anyone and anything.

Good manners are free and anyone can avail themselves; they put others before themselves and recognise that we are all here now.

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