As a child, I had the language of manners drummed into me. What do you say? Errr... oh yeah.. thank you, thank you very much. And what's that magic word? Errr... yeah... please, please that's it! That's the magic word. The drill was to use these words where ever you went. Speeding ticket? Thank you officer! Toilet visit? Please may I go.
Actually I think these words are a bit over-rated. Using "please" and "thank you" is all very well and good but these tags can be used without genuine intent. They can be mere language habits that you exude simply through training. Showing gratitude should be felt and meant - so should requesting someone's service via "please". You can say "please" and "thank you" with vicious resignation when they should be uttered with real human feeling, a real sense of the "other" human being with whom you are in communication.
But manners is about much more than these words. Manners is about valuing and respecting the people that we all have to live amongst. One of the main tenets of my life is that I am everybody's equal - I'm not better that anybody else and nobody is better than me. I don't care how rich you are or how poor, how clever or stupid, how famous or unknown, how young or old, how masculine or feminine, how tall or small, how black or white - you're just my equal that's all. And everybody has their own story to tell, we are all products of genetics, environment and perhaps the choices we made when we arrived at crossroads in our lives. There but for the grace of God go I.
I hate ignorance and bullying. These characteristics typify people who lack basic manners. We might sometimes say - "Manners cost nothing but they are worth a lot". Manners prove we recognise that we are members of a society that connects us, makes us interdependent.
So don't try and push in front of me in a queue or you'll feel my wrath and I may not say "thank you" when I ask you to move your ass. And don't expect me to say "please" when I am claiming my rights. And when I fart or sneeze or belch I won't beg your pardon - these are involuntary physical expulsions for which I make no apology. But I will always try to say "sorry" and mean it when I have made a mistake because that is an important element of manners which demonstrates that at times human beings can be as selfless as they are selfish.