Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Manners and Glue

I live by a certain antiquated axiom, as I believe that the very best of
what we are comes from the remaining vestiges of the honor culture that
James Bowman, wrote so eloquently about in his marvelous book,

That axiom, or "mantra" if you are inclined to be slightly more liberal
minded then I am, is this; "Manners are the glue that hold society together".

I am used to being carpet bombed by angry leftists, who write into my blog,
hidden behind the safety of their computers, expressing their displeasure at
my pro-American, pro-administration, 2nd amendment flag waving. That
comes with being a blogger, or more precisely, a conservative blogger with
libertarian leanings. (confused yet? Me too. My conservative-libertoid struggles
cause sleepless nights. Well, not really, but anyway).

Recently, Vice President Chenney was attacked by Senate Majority leader
Harry Reid, calling him an "attack dog". Afterwards, in a classic demonstration of
Democratic hypocrisy, he pompously asserted that he would "not engage in
name calling". It reminded me a little of a guy who goes to the "all you can eat
shrimp night", stays for three hours, eats more than his share, embarrasses
his wife - then, at the end of the night, unbuckles his belt and says; "I couldn't
possibly eat another bite". As this blog is being written, the Democratic controlled
senate, in a spineless bit of political posturing, passed the Iraq war spending bill,
but not before they loaded it with an arbitrary, and unrealistic time line for troop
withdrawal. President Bush is expected to veto the bill, as he should.

The hill is getting nasty, and I'm not absolving the Republicans completely, but
they, by far, show far more decorum then there counterparts.

Society in general seems to have lost it's manners as well. I hear a lot more "give
me that", in the course of day, than, "Would you please pass that to me".
We also seem to have forgotten words like "thank you", "excuse me", "may I",
and most of all, "please".

Now, you may be the Earl of Etiquette, or the Duchess of Dignity, but don't
pat yourself on the back too quickly, sport. The true measure of a person's manners
isn't qualified by how you treat friends, nice neighbors, and the pretty Tim Horton's
girl with the stunning smile that could stop traffic.

The true test of one's manners comes when you're confronted with the other
Tim Horton's girl, who would impale you with the bagel knife, and scorch your crotch
with your double-double, if your car wasn't so far from the drive through window.
It's when you grit your teeth, and say thank you with a smile, despite the fact the she
dropped most of your change on the pavement and looked as if she would murder your
grandmother, just for asking for an extra napkin.

That's why are parents used to tell us to; "mind your manners" - something I rarely
hear as a parental admonishment anymore.

My father once said that integrity is what you do when no one is looking, and a
similar logic holds true when it comes to manners. I'll defer to the words of the learned
Mr Bowman'

"Honor and manners — treating people according to their legitimate expectations of
respect and consideration — have always gone together, and it’s not coincidental that
the decline of the one has coincided with the decline of the other. The problem isn’t just
that people are so often ill-mannered but that they are ill-mannered on principle — namely
the principle of personal and emotional authenticity. They have learned to think that it is
hypocrisy to conceal their emotions, even when these are offensive and ugly to those who
are forced to witness them."



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