Who does not know Dale Carnegie? Most inhabitants of the earth know him and know that he was one of leading teachers of humanity in manners and dealing with others during his time. I remember a situation in which he showed adroitness, good manners, intelligence and wittiness. A situation that still captivates me, and I think that even if I forget a lot of the beautiful situations that has been holding my attention for a long time, I will never forget this situation, or, at least, it will be the last situation to forget.
The situation is: One day Dale Carnegie was delivering one of his lectures for which many people of different ages and classes had gathered. When he finished his lecture, an old lady went up to him and said: “What made me come to talk to you is what you said in your lecture that you like old ladies.” Carnegie smiled and took her hand and kissed it and said: Yes, I like old ladies, but I also like ladies of your age!” What a fascinating adroitness. I do not think that lady might have enjoyed sleep in her long life as she must have that night.
We, as a society, have started to lose adroitness. Are we originally lacking adroitness? No, I do not think so. You and I know that we do not mention in our daily speech some words in their direct or abstract meanings. So, we say: He has a generous eye (meaning one-eyed person), he is delicate (meaning simple-minded), and healthy (meaning sick), etc. Moreover, our way of greeting each other makes others as well as us laugh due to exaggeration in repeating greeting phrases. But we have changed a lot. Look around you, and you will find that the greeting phrases have started to fade away. And adroitness has become a thing of past.
When you walk on the street and pass by two or more people, you will hear curses, vulgar language and insults, whether they are joking or fighting. They never pay any attention to those who walk near them, or they do not care for them while they are overwhelmed by anger. This means that adroitness and politeness have disappeared together with modesty and shyness.
When you are driving your car, you may find another driver sticking his head out of his car window cursing you with the most vulgar words you have ever heard. Moreover, he may spit out a mouthful on you, so that it may hit your face. Whether it hits your face or not, it would certainly hit a more important thing that causes deep bitterness, humiliation, a continuous feeling of disgrace, and a lasting longing to a virtue that has abandoned us and disappeared: Commonsense!
This article appeared on Arab News on Oct. 20, 2012