Don’t forget about National Etiquette Week this week! It’s the national recognition of etiquette and protocol in all areas of American life. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of all people to act with courtesy, civility, politeness, respect and manners.
According to the legendary Emily Post, etiquette is today what it has always been: a code of behavior based on kindness, consideration and unselfishness. Etiquette is for persons at every stage of life regardless of age, income, or position in society or business. In past generations, people were not only expected to always behave properly, but they understood the value of demonstrating good manners and morals.
Take, for example, the great American patriot George Washington. His lessons in good breeding came from a book of precepts entitled “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” which listed 110 rules of behavior for young men. The Rules of Civility were originally compiled and published in 1595 by French Jesuits. In 1645, this code of conduct was translated into an English version called “Francis Hawkins’ Youths Behavior, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men,” and was reprinted at least eleven times until 1672.
One copy of this English translation came into the possession of young George when he was 12 years old. Sometime before he turned 16, Washington carefully hand-copied the rules into a notebook as an exercise in penmanship. At the same time, these rules taught Washington the proper behavior that we call etiquette including how to dress, walk, talk, and eat. They also conveyed a moral message of humility and paying attention to those around you. The teenage Washington took these rules to heart, and he grew up to be one of the greatest men who ever lived.
Sadly, the modern generation has fallen away from the Washington standard. We would be wise to take Washington’s rules of civility into our hearts and internalize the values that he strived to maintain for all his days. Although some of the rules may seem a little silly and outdated, most are valuable and timeless lessons for us all. Click here to download a copy of George Washington’s Rules of Civility: http://www.knowledgehouse.info/GeorgeWashingtonRulesofCivility.pdf