Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Manners, Civility, Social Graces and Love of One's Neighbor

Victorian Lady Drinking TeaWhat is civility or civic virtue:
Civic virtues are personal habits and attitudes that are conducive to social harmony and group well-being. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue has been a major concern of political philosophy. The term civility refers to behaviour between persons and groups that conforms to a social mode (that is, in accordance with the civil society), as itself being a foundational principle of society and law.

Bad manners are not only annoying, they really do have an affect on other people.

- A driver blasting his music so loudly even though his windows are closed the bass sound carries and disturbs the people around him.

- A neighbor who runs his weed wacker on an early Saturday or Sunday morning while his neighbors are still asleep.

- Healthy young people sitting on a crowded bus while an elderly person or pregnant lady has to stand.

- Being met with a rude cashier on the checkout line.

- A person talking very loudly on the cell phone in a public place.

- No salutation or personal sign-off in an email.

- A person is thoughtful and sends a gift to a child. Neither the said child nor the parents acknowledge, let alone thank the giver for the gift.

- Inviting someone to dinner or a special event and then to have that person show up dressed as if they were going for dinner at a fast-food joint.

- A sitting man who does not rise out of his chair when being introduced to someone or when a lady walks into the room.

- A person who sits in the car and blows his horn repeatedly instead of getting out of the car and knocking on the door.

- The person in front neglecting to hold the door open for the person behind her or him.

What do the foregoing scenarios have in common? They are all examples of bad manners and no consideration for others.

Bad manners can also be found in sacred places, like Church.

- People talking in Church before Mass while some who are aware of Jesus' actual presence, are trying to pray.

- People who eat or drink during the Mass. This is bad enough because we are to fast one hour before receiving Holy Communion, but to leave a mess in the Church afterward.

- Young people texting and playing computer hand-held games during Mass.

- This may or may not be considered bad manners...instead of silence prior to Mass or during the Holy Communion meditation time, music being played and parishioners forced to sing instead of spending quiet time in thanksgiving.

What are social graces?
Social graces are skills used to interact politely in social situations. They include manners, etiquette (the specific accepted rules within a culture for the application of universal manners), deportment and fashion. These skills were once taught to young women at a finishing school or charm school. The focus of social graces has changed over the last century, recently with an emphasis on business etiquette and international protocol.

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.

twitter / catholicmominHI


Aussie Therese said...

My mother had an experience when she was nearly 9 months pregnant with her first child. This was back in 1961.

She got onto a bus and a young business man got on at the same stop as my mother.

She paid her fare and then turned to see that there was one seat left unoccupied on the bus. She started walking towards it and then the business man that got on at the same stop pushed past her and ran to the seat.

Another passenger then stood up and offered my mother a seat.

Esther said...

Therese, how rude! At least there was one gentlemen on board.

I remember seeing a teen girl sitting in a seat. Mind you, there are senior and disabled passenger seating in the front of our buses. A little old lady went up to the girl and made her move! I couldn't believe it.