On the National Communications Network VOG 102.5 FM, there is a morning programme called ‘Manners Matter’ on the Breakfast Show at 07:40hrs. The programme is an excellent initiative. Such programmes should be expanded for airing by all other media outlets. The Broadcast Amendment Bill of 2017 allows for such possibilities under its provisions that 60 minutes be allocated each day for public service announcements by all national radio and TV stations. After all, the airwaves is part of our national assets.
I would advocate that a proportion of that one-hour allocation of public service announcements on non-state media outlets be directed towards sensitization and educational tips that will aid in the revival and improvement of good ethics and service standards in Guyana. The level of ethics and service standards can have positive or negative effects on national development. They are invariably linked to the social and business climate in countries and form indices which guide potential tourists and investors.
What obtains today as part of societal norms is simply pathetic; most people conduct themselves contrary to standard human norms and do not even realize that what they do would be deemed highly unacceptable in most civilized or progressive societies. Decorum seems to be dead in many places. Some may not even know what decorum is.
A case in point unfolded last Wednesday evening. I went to a popular roadside outlet to purchase dinner. While waiting for our ordered meals, the kitchen staff proceeded to package the dinner orders of a former magistrate while still holding the receipts in her hand. The former magistrate politely objected to having her handle his ordered food with the pieces of paper still in her hand. She nonchalantly responded to him by saying, “I like to hold the paper in my hand”. It was obvious that she felt she was doing the right thing or didn’t care to do what was proper. This is the level of absurdity to which some have sunk, apparently oblivious that such practices are grossly unacceptable.
Before departing the outlet to consume our respective dinners, the former magistrate and I concluded that there is an urgent need for concerted efforts to reverse the current service ethics and attitudinal retrogression plaguing our society.
Another glaring aspect of poor ethics which can be corrected as part of an overarching national awareness drive has to do with indecency and lack of consideration. Some people do not realize it is ill mannered to cough and sneeze indiscriminately in public without covering their mouth and nose or turning away from others. They do not ask to be excused. They do not realize that such actions are potential health risks, particularly if they are consciously or unwittingly infected by some form of communicable disease like ʼflu.
Additionally, public education initiatives like the ‘Manners Matter’ programme should seek to encourage the restoration of good corporate ethics and protocol. By this, I refer to the way some entities and their staff treat with formal and informal requests. Many do not offer basic acknowledgements and fail to address requests in their entirety. If, or when, responses to requests are provided, those responses are often prompted and therefore tardy. Timely responses are often seen as special favours and not as standard efficiencies. Confronting inefficiencies and prompting responses can be met with attitudinal hostility.
While some persons have become resigned pessimists about positive behavioural change in our society, we should consider those countries that went through the processes of restored socio-cultural development. Behavioural change is never instantaneous, but requires dedicated, determined and consistent efforts to support its process. Let us therefore endeavour to heighten awareness with nationwide educational programmes to achieve its success.