I feel like there is a lack of respect for people in the world. Common courtesy and politeness have gone out the window.
I agree. It's amazing how many problems could be solved if people just observed common courtesy and respect. "Do unto others" is pretty universal, and very pragmatic. You don't even have to believe in God to recognize the practical benefits of politeness and courtesy.
When I go out walking at night, I am amazed at how many people fly by me without slowing down or veering over to be on the safe side. I carry a flashlight, so I know they see me. But only about one out of every 15 cars actually slows down or tries to move over to ensure that they don't hit me. It's very aggravating, and it's also a very sad commentary on the human condition. Even when my wife and children are walking with me, most people just fly right past us within inches.
Tipping is another one of my pet peeves. I am amazed that people either don't tip or tip less than 15%. I've been out with people who don't tip. My wife and I once dined with a couple who didn't leave a tip, even though our waiter was very good. My wife asked the lady why she didn't leave a tip, and the lady actually said, "What for? He didn't really do anything special." We haven't been out with them since.
"Thank you" is also very important to me. I really hate to see children receive compliments or gifts and they just sit there without expressing gratitude. It's sad, because it reflects poorly upon the child, but the parents are the ones with the character flaw.
I know my southern upbringing has a lot to do with it, but I still think politeness, respect, courtesy, and gratitude are universal qualities that apply to all cultures. Where is rudeness looked upon with favor? (Well, I guess the French do throw a wrench in my theory.) But other than that...