Manners, Please

As a country and general culture, we’ve got to get back to showing good manners to each other as a matter of course. This needn’t contradict being honest, genuine, and self respecting. Perhaps– among many other challenges– integrating these often seemingly polarized practices is part of the current struggle.

3 thoughts on “Manners, Please

  1. I thought I’d give you a bit of a laugh. I have a part that is thinking back to anything she could have possibly said that brought on this post – guilty conscious, I guess!

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  2. I can’t tell you how many discussions I had about manners with the adolescents I’ve taught through the years. They insisted that it was wrong to say please/thank you/sorry etc. if they didn’t actually feel that way. They felt it was being false to themselves and/or caving in to some bourgeois cultural expectation of how to be in this world. I’d admit that they did have a point–it stinks, for instance, to say “I’m sorry” if you don’t feel sorry, or to say “Thank you” for something you didn’t want or ask for. So I’d cede their points, but make the case that demonstrating good manners does a lot of good things. At the very least, manners are a kind of grease that helps the social machine’s cogs move more easily. It’s amazing to me how much negative energy can be diffused when one shows good manners even in the face of nastiness. More importantly, they’re a way of enacting the Golden Rule. I think that one of the best things manners can do is encourage us to connect with others from the heart. When I say “thank you,” for example, even if before I say it I’m not feeling particularly grateful, the actual saying of the words focuses my attention on my connection to the other person. So the interaction shifts. I might not be thankful for the particular action or thing I’m saying thank you for, but I see the person and recognize that they’ve done something that connects us. And I feel grateful for that.

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