Where on earth have everyone’s manners gone?

There comes a day in every woman’s life when she must wonder: Where on earth have everyone’s manners gone?

This phase of life, I once believed, was the same phase when I would shout things like:

“You kids get off my lawn!”

“Oh, it’s just a touch of gout!”

And so on.

Is it my own grand-millennial style, wherein I scour vintage Etsy finds (and insist on living in a 100-year-old house), that awakens my inner Emily Post: sniffling, subtly raising a groomed eyebrow over the heathenly ways of our community?

Or is it that I’m a Harvard-trained board-certified specialist physician, with years of epidemiological training at the Johns Hopkins University?

Because the lack of manners I’m bemoaning is the horrifically low (proper) facemask usage in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

This, combined with the entitlement of yelling, accosting, and generally harassing either the mask-wearer or the mask-enforcer, is truly beneath the dignity of anyone over the age of 3. (Three year olds, from my closeup observations, somehow manage to retain their dignity while having a completely unreasonable tantrum. It’s either the baby fat or the elfin voice, perhaps some combination of the two.)

Certainly, there are science-deniers out there, but The Lancet (the so-good-you-hate-anyone-who-publishes-there international medical journal) recently released a comprehensive, systematic review of mask-wearing (in combination with the two other staples of pandemics: physical distance and eye protection). It showed a protective benefit in the community.

Was this a perfect scientific study? No.

Then again, I’ve yet to see the perfect study that shows parachutes are useful for skydiving.

I’ve also yet to see any “science-deniers” remain so when they show up in my ICU, desperately hoping to breathe, with fever raging through their fuzzy brains, and infection crushing the very structure from their bones.

I’ve yet to see anyone call on personal freedom philosophies when their mother, the person who kissed your boo-boos away, the person who snuggled you tight when the monsters were in the closet, the person who gave up every selfish concept to give you a better life— when those boo-boo-soothing lips turn ashy gray from lack of oxygen, when those snuggling arms flop lifelessly from muscle weakness, when those unselfish eyes roll back in the head from seizures.

I’ve yet to see anyone call on anything except “please, please help my mommy — please, do anything doctor, everything. No matter what it takes.”

No matter what it takes.

All it takes for us to save someone else’s life nowadays is manners. Manners enough to consider that their life, all life, is worthy of respect.

By covering your mouth and nose with a bit of cloth: you are saying, “I respect you.”

I am not a politician, and I don’t really understand what “woke” even means— I’m just a doctor, and a mom trying to raise a little boy to have good manners (largely to show his mama raised him right).

But even the original proponent of “freedom of self” himself, John Stuart Mill, said of personal freedom: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

So whether you call it old-fashioned manners, Good Samaritan lifesaving, or philosophical largesse: I hope I can’t really hear you that well.

I hope, however you call it: Your mask muffles your speech a bit— which is all in good taste.

Giannina L. Garces-Ambrossi Muncey is a critical care physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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