Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Civility and Social Graces

Esther has a lovely post about manners, recommending a book on social graces that sounds quite good, saying:
It seems sometimes that good manners or social graces are dying out. It may be that because of computers and the internet communication prevalent in our daily lives, many people feel there is no longer a need to be polite.

If you are wondering why I am writing about the topic of good manners, social graces and civility, it is because I am currently reading an interesting little book entitled Town & Country Social Graces: Words of Wisdom on Civility in a Changing Society. Each chapter is giving me lots of food for thought.

So far, I have read about privacy, or lack of privacy, accountability, playing fair, etiquette by email, rekindling the holiday spirit, being an American in a foreign country, on being a gentleman, on keeping the marriage alive and well, dressing for dinner, respecting our elders, saying Thank You, etc. and this is just at the beginning of the book.

Each chapter deals with some aspect on how we treat others in our society or how others treat us.

Can those of us who have good manners and are considerate change those who lack social graces? I do not know but it has to begin with each one of us to continue showing good manners even went tempted to say "The heck with it".

It all boils down to what Jesus has been trying to teach us from the very start: "Love your neighbor as yourself".

It is the reason, we are to die to ourselves. In a society where "I" comes first, we need to remember it is our brother or sister who comes first, "I" come last.


Julygirl said...

It all begins at home. Children are people too and should be treated with respect. To me one can recognize a truly 'classy' person in the way they treat others, no matter whaat ranking they have in the social strata. I find that electronic social media such as 'Face Book' has become a new breeding ground for rudeness and even cruelty. It is one thing being rude in person, but it seems easier to do when one is not face to face. Also nasty E-mail confrontations are more likely than face to face ones.

elena maria vidal said...

So true, Julygirl, I find that all forms of social media require discipline and reorienting what we know about manners and kindness into a new form of communication.

Carol Bory said...

Thank you for sharing this excerpt from Esther's blog. I so agree that we need to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

healthily sanguine said...

Very timely, considering the news I have been reading! I added the book to my wish list on Amazon. :)

tubbs said...

All the phoney 'peace-n-love' during the 60's helped produce a rudeness in the public square.
I specifically remember peoples' behavior changing in so many ways back then. And today?...Walk thru the stacks of a big book store chain, or walk down the ramps of a major airport - and you'll find yourself having to walk over bodies that feel they have the right to sprawl all over the place. Go into (what should be)a nice restaurant and see clods using chairs or booths to rest the bottom of their feet. ....And public transportation in urban areas???...I wont even go there. But this kind of behavior was accepted as liberation from some kind of bourgoise-stuffy- uptightness!

Another lovely legacy from the Age of Aquarius.

Julygirl said...

I was in a Barnes and Noble where the mothers allowed their children to actually open up packaged book/toy items and leave them on the floor. One mother even rolled the stroller across the item she had allowed her child to open. This was in an affluent area or Northern Virginia. The sense of entitlement people have is appalling. It is not everywhere though. I currently live in an area of 'down-to-earth' simple people who are extremely polite and thoughtful whether in traffic or in the super-market.

Alexandra said...

" 'I' come last."

Yep, and I have been guilty of letting "I" come first on occasion. It's much easier nowadays to slip away from the good manners we learned in the "olden days". I catch myself doing or saying things that I wouldn't have when I was younger. (not unkind, just more casual)Sounds backwards, but it's true. Things are so much less formal now!

Thanks for the reminder. :)

Lynda @ Elegance Reclaimed said...

Hello Elena,

Thank you for this post.

My two cents is: though every person operates under different guild-lines of how to behave, to my way of thinking, consideration needs to be at the core.

Being raised with the teaching that rules were to be followed not used to judge, helps me keep in mind when around others, to work on inward instead of outward.

Why are manners and etiquette important? An accurate metaphor is manners and etiquette are the grease (so-to-speak) that keep society operating smoothly.

"I" is good if self-control and self-containment are prominent ... otherwise "I" just morphs into me-me-me.