March 11, 2016

Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

The candidates are still duking it out. For all the lip service that has been paid about putting an end to negative campaigning, this election is certainly pushing the proverbial bar to all new lows, practically through the floor. It’s almost painful to think that we still have eight more months of this trash talking to go.

All of the candidates would do well to follow the lead of our very first president, who set a standard in more ways than one.

When George Washington was a teen, he copied down the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which were composed by French Jesuits back in 1595. Washington followed these rules as a character-building exercise – something we could use a lot more of these days. It’s almost as if he foresaw what the voters in 2016 would be forced to suffer.

C’mon, people! It’s not too late! Do yourselves and the rest of us a favor and take a lesson from Washington. After all, look how well he turned out.

Some of my personal favorites from Washington’s playbook:

#1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

#4. In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.

#6. Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you should hold your peace, and walk not on when others stop.

#16. Do not puff up the cheeks, loll not out the tongue, rub the hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the lips too open or too close.

#20. The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon.

#22. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#24. Do not laugh too loud or too much at any public spectacle.

#29. When you meet with one of greater quality than yourself, stop, and retire especially if it be at a door or any straight place to give way for him to pass.

#35. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

#63. A man ought not to value himself of his achievements, or rare qualities of wit; much less of his riches virtue or kindred.

#88. Be not tedious in discourse, make not many digressions, nor repeat often the same manner of discourse.

#89. Speak no evil of the absent for it is unjust.

And last but not least:

#110. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

So if you chop down a cherry tree – or disrespect your presidential opponent or television interviewer — fess up and mind your manners.

(Disclaimer: Blame the 16th century French Jesuits, not me, for the gender-centric language of the 110 rules).

On a separate note, it seems spring has finally sprung here in the Northeast. We’ve had record breaking 70+ degree weather here in Manhattan the last two days, and it’s still the beginning of March. Although winter is not over and we’ve been known to have major snow storms in April, it looks like the unseasonably warm temperatures are here for the foreseeable future. And to top it off, this weekend brings us back to daylight savings time, where we get an extra hour of daylight starting on Sunday. I hope wherever you are you’re able to enjoy the good weather and extra daylight we’re headed for.