I have been away from blogging for a good while due to a variety of circumstances. but, God willing, will be more consistent now.
There is an old saying that “manners maketh man.” Ideally, one’s manners should be a public expression of one’s moral (ultimately, religious) beliefs and personal character. Manners can, of course, be deceptive: one can be a well-mannered deceiver or cheat. But these are bad (false good) manners and can be seen through over time by a perceptive observer. But manners do not just express one’s private beliefs; they are also an agreed-upon way of acting in public that honors the dignity of other persons. When a child is told by a parent “Behave yourself!” this is an appeal to the authority of publicly accepted good manners — the coin of the realm in polite behavior. Proper dress for different occasions and taking care with personal grooming are a part of good manners as well.
Of course, there have always been people who, through ignorance or vulgarity or adolescent-like defiance, violate the rules of good manners. And of course, in our day, the very idea of being socially pressured to dress or speak or act in accordance with traditional rules is met with derision and dismissal.
When I was a child and younger teenager in the 1950s and early 1960s, the failure to say “Please,” “Thank You,” “Yes, Sir,” “Yes, M’am” etc. was met with chastisement and even at times mild punishment. And soap awaited the mouth that, after warnings, uttered curse words repeatedly and indiscriminately. Other manners for men such as standing when a woman entered a room, helping her into and out of a car, seating her at a table, paying for dinner and all other expenses on a date, and opening a door for her were standard good manners beyond debate. Oftentimes, these manners were part of the timeless “romance” between the sexes — as in Medieval courtly love poetry — and also a recognition of the unalterable differences between women and men and in particular their different roles in the propagation of the human race. Showing proper respect for one’s elders and what one owed them and coming to the aid of a woman in distress were also laws never, ever to be violated.
Much of what was considered good manners in my youth has now largely passed away with the changes that broke out fully in the 1960s — the sexual revolution, radical feminism, extreme individualism to the point of narcissism (repeatedly taking “Selfies” with phone cameras, for example), and the appalling breakdown of the traditional family.
At the age of 64, I know that I can do nothing to reverse the trends in American life over the last 50 years. Well, almost nothing. Even at the risk of a frown or a huff or a curt refusal, I can and will observe as best I can the manners my youth — come what may. “May I open that door for you, M’am?”