HAVE SOME MANNERS

THE ISSUE: State health chief refuses to don mask when asked to by the lawmaker he was meeting with in her office.

OUR OPINION: Sen. Wilton Simpson called it correctly: Manners matter.

Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle

Recently, an incident occurred in Tallahassee that produced nationwide repercussions, and rightly so.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointee to the post of state Surgeon General, in charge of the Florida Department of Health. He had been visiting the offices of state senators, who are to vote on his confirmation in the legislative session that begins in January. He and two aides showed up to meet with Sen. Tina Polsky in her office. She asked him to wear a mask, as she said she has a serious medical condition. When Dr. Ladapo refused, she asked him and his aides to leave her office.

This incident touched off a discussion that echoed nationwide regarding, among other things, how one should behave. Notably, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, who represents Citrus County, issued a statement saying that “what occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate.”

Simpson wrote in the Oct. 23 memo: “Today I learned of an interaction that occurred in Senator Polsky’s office, during which her request that visitors to the office wear a mask was not respected. This incident is even more disappointing given the health challenges Senator Polsky is currently facing. While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave.”

Dr. Ladapo is open about not being on the same page as the CDC regarding the effectiveness of masking in virus control. That’s a consideration for senators in their confirmation discussions, but it’s not the subject here. We agree with Simpson, and come down squarely on the side of civility and respect in all dealings, most especially those in professional settings.

Remember that lesson from your parents about catching more flies (or bees) with honey than with vinegar? They were saying that you’re more likely to get what you want by being nice than by being unpleasant. We expand that to include respect — when you show respect to others, you’re more likely to establish relationships and find common ground. Showing respect is called for in all interactions, but particularly in situations where you’re seeking the other’s approval.

It’s not about winning at any cost. Good manners never go out of style. Many fear that we as a society have lost our sense of civility and respect. How do we reconstruct that social framework? One person at a time: work at understanding others, acknowledging their concerns and respecting them, even if you don’t agree. It’s the path to a smoother future.