As a Dominican, I was again both saddened and angry by the negative reports which appeared in the press recently concerning the views expressed by the cruise ship passengers who visited us recently.
Last year I wrote concerning the negative remarks about Roseau — the smelly drains and gutters, the crowded narrow streets, the indecently dressed "paros", etc. etc. but this year, besides the above, the reports are mainly directed to people. The press reported that they said Dominicans are unfriendly, discourteous and uncaring. To make these remarks would condemn the taxi drivers, transport operators, tour guides, vendors on the Bayfront, the clerks in stores, and the hotel employees, etc.
Before, we prided ourselves as being friendly, hospitable and kind people with good manners; but not now. Even the beggars are not polite! Imagine that! Everyone is for themselves with no feeling for you. Why has this happened to us? I leave this to the sociologists to explain. What I would like to suggest however is that we include ETIQUETTE and MORALS in all our schools' curriculum even starting with the pre-schools. This is a long term strategy, but a start has to be made and it will pay dividends in the long run. Etiquette, the conventional rules of social behaviour, is a thing of the past; morals are lacking. Etiquette was taught at the Convent High School a few years ago by the late Mrs. Rosemary Cools-Lartigue; I sincerely hope that this is still continuing!
The modern youth and many adults, whom you would think know better, disappoint us. For quite some time now I have been appalled by what I have seen and heard; hence it is with a heavy heart that I pen these words to you.
Below are a few examples:
Youth and many adults do not hold open the door of buildings especially supermarkets when entering. There is little or no regard for those behind them. This is the basic politeness which is lacking these days. They enter and leave the door to slam on you entering. They could not care less or perhaps they were never taught etiquette!
Greeting a person by saying "Good Morning" is a rarity.
No longer are women given preference as it used to be. Men do not open the car door for women anymore.
Many do not know how to eat properly, namely how to use a knife and fork. This needs to be taught at home and at schools. I am not being facetious, but this is extremely important. What I see shocks me! I suppose with the advent of fast foods like Pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken where one only uses their hands to eat, this may play a part, but it is no excuse not knowing how to properly use a knife and fork. I go further to suggest that we may very well be having someone representing Dominica at some training programme for sports etc. but on seeing how he/she conducts him/herself at the table and how they eat, may cause Dominica to lose out to some other island. You never know how others think and observe you. Our behaviour has far reaching consequences and one must never forget that.
Another problem that comes to mind is pronunciation of our English Language. Many English courses and English Literature are not compulsory at school anymore, hence students do not read enough and they make bad pronunciations and this is not corrected. Dominicans on the whole do not read much and only buy a newspaper if the headlines are sensational!
Many of those who knew better and who could have passed on this knowledge have migrated and there is a void, hence the schools should take up that void. Etiquette covers many aspects and it is essential for a well-rounded student and later adult. If the parents do not know better, then the children can learn at school the correct way to conduct themselves.
This article is just scratching the surface as there are many faults or imperfections that occur that affect our daily lives. It is important for Dominica not to be the laughing stock of other countries, therefore we must act now. "Manners maketh man" is an old saying and we in Dominica are in dire need of manners today!