Youth Day celebrations in Cape Town were marred by people throwing objects at Premier Ebrahim Rasool and some of the other guests in Langa last week. This to me is a matter of concern. Not because I have a kinship to any of those who had objects thrown at them, but because to me its a sign of blatant disrespect. And respect is due to them not because they are politicians, but because they are human beings.
What ever happened to the good old days when young people got up for the old lady in the third-class carriage on the train? These days we say, "I paid for my seat", not realising that the old lady might have arthritis or some ailment and her body gets tired quicker.
Or how about the time when a guy opened a door for his lady? Chivalry is dead, they say, but it's not about the door - it's about the thought behind it.
My pet irritation is people who walk against you in a shopping mall and then give you a dirty look - as if you had walked into them!
Some might say I'm nit-picking. Others will say I'm old-fashioned and in the modern world people don't have time to be nice. I beg to differ. The other day I got an e-mail about a woman who bumped into a stranger on the road and apologised.
That night the woman was busy washing dishes and bumped into her child as she turned around. Instead of apologising, she scolded the child because he was "in her way".
Later that night the woman found a letter on her bed from the child apologising for interrupting her, but all he wanted to do was give her flowers in the colours he thought she'd like. The mother felt bad and obviously apologised. The moral of the story: often we are polite to strangers and yet disrespectful to those we know and love.
But when we as people start being disrespectful even to strangers, then we have something to start worrying about. There are so many problems facing us as youth and on a bigger, society-wide scale today.
Some may blame poverty for crime and a lack of education for drug abuse and the increasing HIV/AIDS rate. But there's an age-old saying that "Charity begins at home". If we forget to respect those closest to us, how will we remember to respect strangers? I think the problem we have as a society is not a lack of education, but a lack of morals.
Although morals are defined differently by different people, as they class themselves in levels of "liberalness", there are some basics I think we should all adhere to.
So if you're getting on a train after a long day at work and the old lady gets on, at least offer her the seat. Chances are she may say its okay and that you can sit, but at least then you know you've tried.
If your girlfriend is the typical modern woman and insists on paying half the bill, at least once in a while offer to pay the full one. She might feel special and see it as a sign that you care about her, or she might insist on paying her half and then you won't feel bad because at least you know you made an attempt to break the mould.
And lastly, if you bump into someone in the mall and knock their groceries out of their hand, at least say sorry before rushing on. An apology takes nothing away from you but can put a few good marks on your character.
In closing, I once again have a quote for you to ponder, this time by James D. Miles: "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him".