rules of civility

September 11, 2012

last night i finally finished amor towles’ rules of civility, a light, wannabe-gatsby novel, set in new york’s 1930’s, involving romance, the dawning of the independent woman, an america emerging out of a depression, and deception.

the novel was a bit of a let down. i can’t really recommend it. i’d give it a grade C+, i didn’t really care about any of the characters. i never became invested in their stories.

but what did strike me was the repeated references to the real rules of civility, george washington’s book of moral and social codes, in which the main character keeps close to his breast and rereads incessantly in hopes to play nicely amongst high society.

at the end of the novel these rules were all listed. this was the best part of the entire book. reading over these, it struck me how crass and wild we’ve become as a society; how far we’ve fallen away from civility. it really is gross, and i wish it would change.

i’m not suggesting we hold our pinkies up while taking tea, but little things, like simply telling the truth or rather just holding one’s tongue is sometimes the ultimate in decorum.

being mannerly is about being kind.

here are some of my favorites from mr. washington’s codes:

Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for ‘is a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern

If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side.

Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

did you look at the list? which ones speak to you?

tuesday happy to you m’loves. let the civility flourish.

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