Robert A. Heinlein - FridayIt always makes me feel like society is not lost when someone gives up a seat for the elderly. It happened twice on the train (MRT) into work Friday morning.


A favourite author of mine, Robert A. Heinlein, makes a social commentary in his very fun novel, Friday.

One character challenges the main character, Friday, to find out what is the main sign of a civilisation’s irreversible collapse. She comes up with economic and technological indicators, but the answer that was sought was simply “a lack of manners.” Heinlein goes on to say that manners are a sign of respect for other human beings, and once that is lost, so is the civilisation.

I hope he’s wrong, and I hope my perception that we are on that downward slide is incorrect

Comment posted by Ak-Man
at 7/9/2007 8:07:28 AM

I always bury my face in a book or stare into space when old folks get on and i have a seat. My mum raised me to offer them the seat and I used to all the time . . . dont know where I went wrong.

But I can get my manners back, so sure that isnt a sight of an irrevesible civilisation. People can become cilvil and mannerful once more right?

Comment posted by ozlady
at 7/9/2007 8:18:11 AM

One person may reverse a bad habit, but does that mean that a nation as a whole will? We are struggling with a number of things that we are trying to reverse as nations, right? Obesity, courtesy, overconsumption and general selfishness (overconsumption contributes to global warming – it’s just a symptom, no?).

Yes I am stirring the pot a bit, but the idea that ‘if we all change, then the world will change’ has been floating around for a while, and the majority are still following old habits.

Sorry for my pessimism.

Comment posted by Cuckoo
at 7/9/2007 8:50:01 AM

Hi Steph,
This reminds me a post of mine which got many applauds from the readers. It can happen anywhere in world, more or less doesn’t matter.

I don’t agree with Sahil, who is from my native city New Delhi which is famous for dis-respect for ladies & elders. lolz

I am NOT saying this because you came here from my blog w/o leaving a comment there but a fact is a fact. Now, don’t pick up a fight with me. ok?

Comment posted by JohnC
at 7/10/2007 9:59:33 PM

Did they identify that I had or had not clicked on your link when you replied as #2? I actually clicked after posting, and remember going to the ‘cheap used’ area…the books were 1 cent and 3.99 USD for shipping from most places.

I’m going to click again after I submit this comment, for you to track if it’s tracking or not.

Comment posted by sahil
at 7/12/2007 3:27:56 AM

@ozlady: ya, i have noticed the ‘la’ and the ‘ma’ and the ‘reddy’ and the ‘can can can can’, it drives me silly sometimes :)

@cuckoo: aha, point well made. Though in case you have gone through some post of my blog you will notice I am not a great fan of India or Delhi either specially when it comes to treating it’s women.
Check http://freedomnoodles.blogspot.com/2007/04/just-kick-him-in-nuts-will-you.html
I think you will understand what I am talking about..
So no disagreements there. But, I was just stating the fact that the probability of a person getting up from his seat to offer it to a woman is probably more in India. NOT because the people are more women-fiendly there but simply because it’s more of a done thing in India. Anyway, I speak only from my personal experience..

Comment posted by ozlady
at 7/9/2007 12:29:54 AM

Sahil – thanks for dropping by and having been in Singapore you will have noticed the use of Singlish – so I hope you get some joy out of my Singlish posts!

I am really glad you have had a positive experience with Singaporeans – I have found it to be a nice place as well, although in any culture there are positives and negatives, and while filial piety is a law here, I do wish Singapore would treat its elderly better (not to say Australian culture is better, but it’s just an observation).

Enjoy your time Here!

Comment posted by sahil
at 7/9/2007 12:20:46 AM

hey ozlady,

brilliant blog ! i am a new reader and i am already lovin it..u cover quite a range of topics..

regarding this post..let me share an incident..

i am actually from india (new delhi) but i am right now in singapore for 2 months on an internship (i am studying engineering back in india..)
anyway, on one of my first few days here, i was traveling on a crowded bus and a lady boarded it. I got up and offered her my seat. She took it, i think assuming that i was about to get down on the next stop. When i didn’t get down for sometime, she asked me why I had offered her the seat. I laughed and told her it was just out of courtsey..

In any case, the point I am trying to make is that this is really more of a culture thing. In India, its more of a done thing to offer your seat to a lady or an elderly person. Its done by most people and therefore its kind of a norm..

In Singapore, apparently it isn’t so much.

However, that certainly does not mean that people in Singapore are any less nice. In fact, to me that is what has been the best part of my trip here. People here are so nice and kind and always ready to help you out!!

Comment posted by ozlady
at 7/9/2007 12:14:20 AM

Loopy+1 – thanks for the visit, and this was certainly true back in Oz. I recall sitting on a public bus, and the driver yelling at some kids up the back and refusing to leave the bus stop until someone gave a seat to an elderly gentleman.

:evil: I have NEVER seen that in Singapore. In fact, I have seen kids steal seats of older people (by sliding in underneath them just before they sat down), and older people get up for small children. Children are so coddled here it makes me sick.

Comment posted by ozlady
at 7/9/2007 12:12:01 AM

John – Not meant to be evil – I just got an email from Amazon that said that they noticed no-one has clicked on any of my links, so at least you helped there. And I do love Heinlein – he’s one of my favourite authors… lots of thought and a good romp to boot!

Comment posted by loopyplus1
at 7/8/2007 10:54:09 PM

My experiences with local buses is as the drivers become younger the offers of a seat diminish. The older drivers prod good manners into the younger travelers

Comment posted by JohnC
at 7/8/2007 10:52:35 PM

Grrr. You’re EVIL.
I’m clicking on it.
I never click ads.
You’re EVIL!
…grrr. :lol:

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