Courtesy is Society's Greaseby Michael Nunes What makes for a civilized society? How do societies keep from tearing themselves apart, considering their complex mix of competing interests and opinions? Societies and philosophers have contemplated similar questions for millennia. Some societies resort to fear, societies in which it may be fatal to challenge the status quo. Others use a rigorous ideological homogeneity in which peer pressure and the norms of society govern people's actions.
"Social constructs are necessary to keep the wheels of society moving"In large, heterogeneous societies, with a rich mix of religious, ideological and social ideas, other social constructs are necessary to keep the wheels of society moving. The customs and habits of any society, regardless of development ought to be malleable enough to cater for the majority of reasonable citizens and their changing social circumstances. Civility is a necessary part of the foundation of any successful civilized society. In socially advanced societies, this civility is extended not only to those within our peer group, but also to the occupants of the greater social fabric, whatever their station in life. Manners grease the wheels of society, making it easier for all members of that society to live in harmony with one another. In societies in which the individual is seen as more important than the group, or the group as more important than the individual, this harmony may become discordant. When either group or individual become subservient to one or the other, our humanity may well be lost since we lose the ability to see others as our equals.
"When we spend a disproportionate amount of time angry at one another or hostile instead of gracious, society begins to fracture and break down."When we as humans acknowledge our essential humanity and accept others as an integral part of our human species, when we treat one another with respect, not because of our perceived station in life, but because we are human, society becomes a better place in which to live. This is really the essence of good manners, to make society a pleasant and harmonious place to in which to live. When we spend a disproportionate amount of time angry at one another or hostile instead of gracious, society begins to fracture and break down. The way in which we treat one another says a lot about us as people. When we are civil and polite, people become more willing to accept each other rather than perceiving themselves as deserving of courtesy. In a civilized society, we need to be able to accommodate and compromise with our fellows to achieve a richer life for everyone. In all our dealings with others, civility, manners and consideration will foster a pleasant, harmonious society in which we all feel welcome.
Do you remember an instance when being polite helped you achieve something that seemed difficult? or Can you share with us a time when not being courteous enough made you lose an opportunity?-Please share your answer in the comments section below-
Michael Nunes is an author and award-winning public speaker. His inspiring messages draw from his life experiences in South Africa, where he served in the military and from his life experiences in the United States where he lives with his Wife. Michael Nunes will be a regular contributor to The Gentlemen's Brotherhood.
This article was originally published on The Gentlemen's Brotherhood (July 2015).