Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Civility Week 11: March 12, 2012

 Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. - Benjamin Franklin, Founding father of the United States, philosopher and inventor
I read an interesting quote from the website, “The Art of Manliness” concerning  Civility and Manliness and I think it applies to everyone:
“A gentleman treats other with dignity and respect, regardless of the kind of forum in which he participates. He treats life’s fellow travelers as he himself would like to be treated. And in doing so, he makes the world a little better of a place everywhere he goes. He leaves those he interacts with feeling edified and uplifted instead of depressed and angry. Every man has the power to brighten his corner of the world, whether that corner be in the office, his home or online. The more men who decide to take the higher road of civility, the more enjoyable everyone’s lives become. And choosing to reject our baser impulses in favor of our high ones is a big part of becoming our best selves and building our legacy.
Well said! We could use more etiquette these days. Etiquette goes hand in hand with civility.  In day’s gone by etiquette books were popular books!  Our ancestors understood something we often forget: no matter how common sense something is, without frequent reminders and practice, humans are drawn to the path of least resistance.   Our culture has almost forgotten what it is to use manners, have etiquette rules and of course civility.
We need more Emily Posts  writing about civility and etiquette and manners. Bring back the manners classes that kids used to take.   Finishing schools  were places where young ladies learned how to fulfill the name “Lady.”
Where does this begin? In your own home! Civility isn’t just about politics or online behavior.  It’s about being ladies and gentlemen and talking, writing and especially behaving that way. 

In our martial arts classes, my husband and I always taught that when it came to break time the ladies got to get a drink first, then the gentlemen. There were usually a lot of groans that came from the new boys at this, the older boys already understood.  Civil and mannerly behavior begins everywhere there are men and women, boys and girls. When we break down the respect we have for each gender, our society breaks down too.  So even though we were teaching boys and girls how to hit and punch in martial arts, we demanded a certain amount of civility. You didn’t throw sucker punches, you respected your opponent and you shook hands before a match. 
Our students were taught to not only respect the instructors but other students, adults and kids too, both in class and outside of class. If a student was reported to have been rude to someone outside of class, they were called on the carpet about it. And it was not fun to have two large male instructors and one bad mama bear instructor shaking a finger in your face about being rude to someone outside of class!
My husband, the other male instructor and I all considered learning about manners to be the upmost importance in martial arts because you were being taught how to harm someone. Even if you were only learning how to protect yourself from bad guys, you still had to know how to use what you learned with reason, discipline and safety for all concerned.
Kids learn at home how to behave mannerly and with civility. We can fight the world’s influence. Yes we can.  It begins with you and with me.

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