Those things that Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur taught us about and that Lancelot reinforced ever so convincingly.
They go beyond Please and Thank You (those are still the magic words), beyond holding a door for someone, beyond using the proper fork and glass. Here is a wonderful article (one I didn’t even write) about manners (or lack thereof) in today’s world.
Manners are about respect. They are about acknowledging that other people have their own priorities and concerns. Manners allow us to ask people for favors and then thank them for the favor and/or appreciate that they are not able to deliver on the request.
Manners are about respect and generosity of spirit. They are about finding small ways to put others before ourselves. They are about having conversations on a respectful level rather than from an emotional, biased perspective.
While using an umbrella handle to fling a mug of beer is an excellent method for teaching manners in movie-land and comic books, most of us teach manners by modeling appropriate behavior and gently correcting those around us who forget to behave appropriately.
Manners, kindness, open hearts, and generosity of spirit are excellent things to be reminded about on Martin Luther King Jr Day.