Last time I posted, I was thinking about manners particularly in relation to our culture’s growing tendency toward casual apparel. I appreciate the responses and I thought that each one brought something valuable to the discussion. I really enjoyed the consideration you put into your answers!
I am so grateful for the tender heart expressed by Nichole, and wish my heart were as big as hers. The last thing I want for myself is to become Pharisaical, judging others on their outside appearance. I hope that having good manners and having a loving heart are not polar opposites or mutually exclusive. Does having good manners oneself necessarily require that in others? Can you be mannerly without caring if others are?
I don’t think so. I think it is a societal contract that, if one accepts it, leads to the expectation that others do, also. Maybe the day has gone by that societal standards for apparel are commonly accepted. My goodness, in the 1950’s I remember the “rules” that white shoes were only to be worn from Easter to Labor Day, and after that, it was your black patent leathers. To wear white shoes in winter was definitely tacky. Then in the 1980’s “winter white” came out, muddying the waters. Now we wonder ‘who made those rules, anyway’? But perhaps we internalized them and carry them with us. I know I don’t wear white shoes in winter!
These cultural norms seem small and faddish compared to having an open heart to people. The most important “Good Manner” is having a genuine care for the comfort and well-being of others. I hope, ideally, that this caring can coexist with a courteous attitude on all sides towards our apparel, and that includes standards of modesty, too!
That is another huge subject, modesty. The day camisoles became outerwear was a day confounding the older folks and young people alike. I know that it is a problem for young men to have nearly-bare breasts thrust at them and not regard women sexually. I have noticed the office apparel in TV shows such as CSI: New York and CSI, and wonder if women in official capacities really expose so much cleavage. Really? It’s like seductive evening wear and I don’t think it belongs in the office or lab. Inappropriate!
I was going to address some behavioral issues today such as how to sit through a concert or church service politely, or even a school assembly. And then there is cell phone usage, and texting while you’re having a conversation with someone else.
Changing technology has raised a whole new area for a new code of manners to emerge, and I believe the same basic principle applies: caring for the comfort and well-being of others. Being aware of our setting, who is around us that may not want to participate in our personal phone calls. Being engaged with the person you are with and not half there because you are texting with someone else. Not inflicting your spousal fight on the phone with the person sitting beside you on the bus/train/plane. It’s being aware of other people in the world and cooperating in a ‘what’s-good-for-you-is-good-for-me’ way.
That is good manners no matter what you are wearing.