Etiquette is a lost art....it only occasionally surfaces like the relic if a forgotten martyr, or an artifact of a bygone civilization. The doffing of a gentleman's hat, the curtsying of a little girl, hand-written thank-you notes and the idea of dressing for dinner, are generally regarded in the same light as the quaint customs of an indigenous tribal people. Yet the loss of etiquette is a sign of the degradation of a society that has abandoned respect for its own members because ultimately it has abandoned public, as well as private, respect for God.
We must have respect for others, as well as for ourselves, as being made in the image and likeness of our Father in Heaven. The exterior forms of courtesy are merely a concrete means of showing charity towards people, of giving them what is due to their human dignity.
Through good manners we display consideration for the feelings of others. By refraining from behavior which may disturb or disgust, we can instead cultivate words and actions which soothe, charm, and set at ease. Rather than flattery and falsehood, etiquette helps us to be at our best while bringing out what is best in our friends.
Forms of courtesy are small ceremonies or rituals applied to the most mundane situations. As Amy Vanderbuilt wrote in her 1958 Complete Book of Etiquette: "Ceremony is really a protection...If we have a social formula to guide us and do not have to extemporize, we feel better able to handle life." Knowing what to say or do in any given social situation builds self-confidence. It is not intended to make one boring or stuffy, but rather more efficacious in the giving of love. Share