Friday, February 17, 2006

Looking at good manners

The next post is a mish-mash of cutsies and soap bubbles gathered from a few minutes of splashing about the internet. I remember doing something like the same thing in the bathtub when I was a kid, only then I was playing with suds and toys for children. It is a blessing as an adult to be able to remember what childhood was like years ago. But there is also a serious side to recalling the past. I also remember being taught to have good manners.

Because my post-retirement job is in a community of old people (median age is about 84) I was touched by the opening line of a Touchstone post: Many years ago while I was visiting an elderly member of my church in a nursing home... Don't click yet, reader; stay with me for a moment or you will miss the point. As I read the post I could not help hearing a greater sound playing in the background, the sound of a decaying social fabric being played out on a larger stage, in the spotlight of national identity, with actors from all over the world screaming out their lines in a vain, transparently rude attempt to grab the spotlight.

I will go ahead and tell you the punchline so as not to have any surprises.

A polite man is not necessarily a good man, but a rude one, even if no offense is intended by undue familiarity, is a lower creature than he ought to be.
That gently-made point is where we are headed, so go now and read the post ending with that line. But as you read, let yourself remember some recent headlines and arguments about "cultures" and "offensive cartoons" and "freedom of speech" and "principles" and "caving in." Maybe it's just me, but I think we may be in danger as a people of moving retrograde to becoming again a race of barbarians.

Time permitting, here is another good essay from a reasonable, rational contemporary source recalling a more polite moment from 1989. That would be seventeen years ago, but the message seems yet to have been heard.

Okay, while we'are at it (and you have all the time in the world, I'm sure) some intrepid referrer to my humble blog had a search engine pull up a forgotten post that should be mentioned here. As we plunder along in a moral quagmire of cartoons, political freedoms, torture reports (but that was before we stopped doing it, don't you know), Gitmo detainees (still there last I checked), warrantless spying by a "unitary" executive, and so on...

Let's pause for a moment to read the words of a real hero, a former instructor at West Point who was
...the son of a multi-generation Army officer corps family. My father and grandfather, both distinguished wartime commanders, instilled in me the belief that America must not merely win her wars but must do so in a manner that retains our great values.
Go read the words of Rick Phillips, now senior minister of First Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Coral Springs/Margate, FL.

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