Here is a modern scenario: you have a girlfriend to supper, and before you sit down, she asks if you would mind if she shut the window, turned up the heating, switched places and opened her own bottle of wine. Then she tells you she’ll have to leave before you have finished eating because she has something important to do. And her boyfriend won’t be coming after all.
Not so long ago, such behaviour would have been thought extremely rude, but now we live in a world where everyone feels justified in putting their own needs first. It is perfectly common for guests to ask for drink that isn’t being offered, variations on the food you are serving or alterations to the heating, lighting or music. If you make a date with a girlfriend, she will think nothing of postponing it if something more important comes up, or just if she’s tired. You could put all of the above down to a crisis in manners, but these are not just examples of thoughtless behaviour ? they are all driven by the same desperate impulse to be the absolute master of our destiny.
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