By Maria Victoria Rufino
The world is rushing and spinning at a dizzying speed. Upheavals and natural disasters are happening almost simultaneously. People are overwhelmed by multiple issues such as health, food, income, housing. Survival in the prolonged pandemic is a priority. The political and economic scene is like a stormy sea. Unpredictable, tossing us off balance.
“Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.” — Mark Twain
It is understandable that people may forget or overlook certain essential values. Respect for their elders, courtesy and gallantry, social responsibility, kindness, compassion, considerateness. Their interwoven qualities were taught by our grandparent, parents, teachers.
‘OTHERNESS’ VERSUS SELFISHNESS
One observes that some of these traits are sadly missing among the younger generation, “I, me, myself” — the sense of entitlement prevails.
Some self-centered children mistakenly think that the world is at their feet and that good fortune is meant only for their personal enjoyment. Others have been flaunting their new wealth — recently acquired by instant success, power, fame, and connections.
Some upstarts think that they know it all and disregard and defy strict rules that affect the safety of others. They ignore wise advice from more experienced elders. This happens frequently and shows their arrogance and lack of respect for the community.
Individuals, once quiet and obscure, who suddenly attain a degree of success and prominence begin to act pompously. They forget their manners and courtesy. They strut round and act condescendingly towards people who are more modest — the less important people (in their inflated opinion) — the service staff and the less fortunate, among others.
It is heartwarming to see a few young gentlemen being gallant escorts, opening doors and pulling chairs for the ladies — their grandmothers, mothers, and girlfriends. On a bus or train, it is rare but touching to see a young adult stand up to offer his/her seat to a woman who is carrying a baby or a heavy bag or to an old man.
The genteel era of courtliness and gallantry seems to have vanished in the past century with a few exceptions.
Guts is a quality that people equate with courage and confuse with toughness. To define it, writer Dorothy Parker once asked the celebrated author Ernest Hemingway what he meant by “guts.” His reply was simple, “grace under pressure.” We see this quality among our good leaders, in exceptional people who carry on during a crisis despite the odds.
An inspiring example of grace and compassion is the way the brave young women from privileged families in Manila have responded to the urgent need to help others in the typhoon-ravaged disasters areas. They chose to stay to help the affected communities. A rescue plane was sent but they courageously declined its use.
At Christmas time until the present, they have risked their own safety and comfort so that they could rehabilitate the families and the wrecked homes in Siargao. They did not celebrate noche buena with their families, but they celebrated life and love with the impoverished, marginalized and homeless.
It is truly a noble mission that exemplifies the values they have learned from their parents, grandparents, and the schools that formed their characters. They have the rare “guts” and grace as they continue give hope to thousands of people who are helpless. The value they show is “noblesse oblige” — nobility obliges.
“Those of high rank must be noble and responsible.” — Gaston Pierre Marc, Duc de Levis
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.