Decency – a difficult word. It was synonymous to Moral and was often used in the overtly moral-sensitive Victorian era. There was this belief that one would rather be a decent folk than a good one, which tells much about the importance of being decent in those days. Now the word is seldom used and most people confuse it with Politeness, which is not the same thing altogether. Decency is a code of behaviour, recognized by everyone (though this code differs by degree according to social ranks), to be acceptably Christian and civil behaviour; and the breach of which not only creates perturbance in others but also brings big disgrace to the person who has been so un-Christian, inadvertent and inconsiderate to act indecently. It was a serious crime, to be indecent; and it mattered little whether one meant well, because if you could not bring yourself to be decent you could be hardly any good anyway. This rigidity on Decency may sound absurd to the modern ear, and yet I have always wondered if it will be easier if such codes are still followed today.
If we take away all the Aristotlelean definitions and Theological arguments for each decent behaviour, to behave decently actually is nothing more than to be considerate. To make others comfortable while maintaining one’s own intergrity, Decency is as simple as that. I am not talking about the Lady First rule, or the adherence to regulations. Both men and women should be observing the code of Decency. It is like – when waiting in queue, a decent person will know where to stand, so as not to be in other person’s way. I often have this unpleasant experience when some person would station in the most unbelieveable position, as if totally oblivious of my existence.
Or say, going through a doorway. A decent person, expecially a gentleman in this case, would have the sense to let others through first instead of forcing past. But the “gentlemen” these days seem to regard that few seconds more material than being decent. I was forced away the other day by a man in suit and tie, and he seemed to have realized that he had brushed past a girl rather violently and gave me a sideway glance, and I did not hesitate to show my indignation at this ungentlemanly behaviour.
Or say, the way to address a member of the opposite sex. This is indeed the thing that vexes me most. People nowadays seem to believe that equality between the sexes means that they can be rude to the opposite sex. Whereas a lady should be modest and refrain from some topics of conversation when addressing a gentleman; the gentleman, out of decency, should avoid topics of delicacy, in consideration of the lady’s feelings – that is, whether the lady actually minds or not, the gentleman should never make any presumption. For example, it is very rude to dwelt on the lady’s or any other lady’s appearance, be it praise or not. One or two word of praise at the beginning of the acquaintance may be politeness, but to make it a topic of discussion is abhorable behaviour. The lady’s good-looks will not make that behaviour any more wholesome. Men tend to think every woman likes to be praised upon their good-looks, which is a very wrong concept. And then they think they can treat a woman like their fellow men, which would mean respect enough. That is a disasterous mistake again. Women are more delicate in many ways than men, and the respect for women is quite different from the respect for men.
Actually the whole entry is for me to vent my frustrations against the hopeless men I met. I just wish that I may meet some decent folk soon and pershaps some day I can review this article on decency.