Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Divinipotent About Good Manners

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use."
~ Emily Post

Divinipotent Daily has long believed good manners are the glue that holds society together. As Emily Post pointed out, good manners are not about tableware. Having good manners means having empathy and acting on it.  

“Manners are of more importance than laws... Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”
~ Edmund Burke

It's hard to overestimate the importance of good manners in a large, diverse, crowded city, where behavior is not always reined in by standardized cultural norms. A close encounter with bad manners — someone elbowing ahead in line, pushing past in a crowd or slamming a door in one's face — can unleash a titanic rage.

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

~ Eric Hoffer

According to a 2006 global study by Reader's Digest, New York is the most courteous city in the world. The study's authors do offer some evidence, but as a lifelong New Yorker, Divinipotent Daily is not completely convinced. For example, it's generally true that the only New Yorkers who will give up their subway seats for a pregnant woman are other pregnant women. It's also true that tourists, flush with the feeling of anonymity the city offers, sometimes indulge in appalling behavior. Still, if New York were even half as rude as some maintain, there would be brawls on every street corner every hour of the day.

"Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax." 
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

When it comes to bad manners, the Internet is a free-for-all, with anonymous blog comments serving as poster children for rudeness. The University of Wisconsin, Kent State, Empire State College and other educational institutions offer online etiquette guidelines. (Example: "Do not type in all caps.") For the business world, an entire site, NetM@anners, is devoted to e-mail etiquette. Etiquette tip of the day:
"Always capitalize all your sentences. Not doing so can give the impression you didn't make it out of grade school."

For a slightly more comprehensive approach, Web publisher Albion offers Netiquette by Virginia Shea, a book that cautions the online community to "remember the human" at the other end of the conversation.

A few final words about good manners:

“Manners are one of the greatest engines of influence ever given to man.” 
~ Richard Whately

"Good manners:  The noise you don't make when you're eating soup."
 ~ Bennett Cerf

“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”

~ Fred Astaire

"Beware of a man with manners."
~ Eudora Welty

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