Elegantly Old School

"Elegantly Old School"

Or how to revive common courtesy and knit society back together again. 

What was once common courtesy is now a rare and somewhat precious (in both senses of the word) thing.  I think about the rules we were taught for writing letters--and then I see how we commonly do e-mails.  The address line is determined to be salutation enough.  If we leave comments, we rarely trouble ourselves to acknowledge the individual behind them.  I know the electronic is metaphor for the new conversation in which we commonly do not acknowledge the speaker--but then, because we are present and evidently attentive, there is little cause to.

Courtesy, acknowledging the presence of one another, saluting the spark of the divine that travels within each one of us, is the stuff of which civil society is made--and it isn't a set of elaborate rules about whether or not one is required to wear elbow-length gloves or use the fish fork before the ice-cream knife (although those things in themselves have a charm and an other-worldly elegance).  Instead it is about being present to one another and acknowledging by that presence the worth of the individual who is trying to communicate.  This is done in small ways--by using a name, by saluting with one's own name.

I know, I have an antiquated idea of how things should progress in the world of the new spelling, twitter, and text messages.  But as everyone who has been aggravated by them will attest, even my text messages make some attempt at salutation and valedictory. 


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