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February 04
2013年2月4日

「禮讓」是什麼意思?

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去年11月在巴黎出差開會,會後我與三位城大同事等電梯,離我們較遠的電梯先到了,可在電梯旁等候的幾個本地人卻堅持讓我們先上電梯,因為我們先到。電梯容量不大,他們寧可等後來的電梯,也不願先乘。

這一經歷不由使我想到今日的香港,無論在商場、車站、餐館、地鐵等公共場所,人多擁擠時,往往需要排隊輪候。如遇到同樣情況,除非有專職人員維持秩序,常會引起一場混亂,站在先到的電梯門口的人往往會「捷足先登」,而不會禮讓先到者。又如在紅磡火車站等車,不少人為了佔一座位,未等車上乘客下車,便擠逼著衝進車厢。

雖然這種有失禮貌的情景與大陸許多地方相比,已大有改進,但作為一個自詡高度國際化的大都市,我們應有更理想的禮讓風度。

我曾想,也許香港人的生活節奏太快,顧不著禮讓。但日本人的生活節奏同樣很快,而去過日本大小城市的人都知道,當日本人站在自動電梯上時,必會緊靠著一邊,為有需要在電梯上行走趕路者讓出一條通道。在香港,則常會有人把這條通道堵住。

又如在日本的火車或地鐵上,不會有人大聲說話,也很少聽到手機鈴聲或看到有人用手機通話,雖然日本城市的人均手機擁有量與香港相若。多年前,我坐火車從京都去大阪,曾親眼看到一個年青人,上車後突然接到電話,隨即退回到月台上。又有一次,我在東京搭地鐵,時值半夜,上來一位酒醉、神智不清的旅客,很快就有人讓位給他,並熱心相助,一直扶著他。這種公共場合的行事方式,已成為日本人的一種生活態度,習以為常,在香港恐怕也不多見。

其實,中國人歷來講究禮讓或禮貌。孔子就曾說過:「鄉人飲酒,杖者出,斯出矣。」意思是說,同鄉之人遇到「鄉人飲酒」那天,為了表示尊敬,要等到拄拐杖的老者起身離開,才會退席。鄉飲酒、拄拐杖,都是舊時禮儀。今天,在巴黎與東京都讓我見到了失傳的古禮。

英語裏有說:Manners are taught, courtesy requires thought.(大意是:禮節尚可教,禮貌須修鍊)。人的行為舉止是心靈的外衣,禮貌是一種修養,而修養決定了一個人的胸懷和格局。

莫非「禮失求諸野」?我們還須努力呢。

 

What does "courtesy" mean?

I went to a meeting in Paris last November. After the meeting, three CityU colleagues and I were waiting for the elevator. When an elevator farther from us arrived, some local people waiting near it insisted that we go in first since we were there before them. Because the elevator was not big enough for all of us, they would wait for another one rather than cutting in front of us.

This experience reminds me of the queues I often see in Hong Kong at crowded public places such as shops, bus stops, restaurants and subway stations. Yet, under similar circumstances, all hell would break loose unless staff members were there to keep the line in order. Those standing near the arriving elevator would swiftly slip in rather than yielding to those who got there first. Take Hung Hom Railway Station for example. Quite a few people would charge into the cabin to get a seat even before the passengers on the train have a chance to get off.

What we see in Hong Kong is of course a big improvement over many places in the Mainland. However, as a city which is proud of proclaiming itself an international metropolis, Hong Kong should hold to a higher courtesy standard.

I used to think that Hong Kong people do not have the time to be bothered with courtesy because they are just too rushed. But then people in Japan also live and work at a frantic pace. Anyone who has visited Japan will notice, whether in a small town or large city, that the Japanese people always stand on one side of the escalator, leaving a passage for those who are in the hurry. In Hong Kong, this passage is often blocked.

Similarly, people seldom talk in a loud voice on the train or in the subway in Japan. Rarely will you hear the ringing of mobile phones or find people talking on the phone, though the number of mobile phones in Japan is comparable to that in Hong Kong. Once many years ago, I witnessed on a train from Kyoto to Osaka a young man retreating to the platform when his phone suddenly rang. Another time I was taking a subway in Tokyo at midnight, when a drunk passenger got on the train. Immediately another passenger offered his seat to him and held him up all the way. Such considerate behaviour in public places has become a common way of life among the Japanese, not easily seen in Hong Kong, I'm afraid.

In fact, China has been known throughout history as a land of courtesy and politeness. Confucius once said, "When villagers gather to eat, I will not leave before the elders," meaning that younger villagers, as a sign of respect, should stay until the elderly who move around with the help of walking staffs have a chance to leave the banquets. Village banquets and waiting on those with walking staffs are both ancient rites in China. Little did I expect that I would witness the revival of the lost rites in Paris and Tokyo.

As an English saying goes, "Manners are taught, courtesy requires thought". A man's behaviour and manners are the outer shell of his soul. Courtesy is a form of cultivation, and one's self-cultivation will decide the breadth of his outlook and personality.

Is this a case of "bringing back the rites from foreign countries when they are no longer found in our own land"? We have a lot to do in this regard.

February 4, 2013

 

 

 

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