Many readers of this booklet have witnessed, over the last three or four decades, a precipitous decline in not only the practice of good manners, but also the comprehension of the need for good manners.  Many people bemoan the ever-increasing anger and violence of our Socialist-afflicted society, and wonder aloud at the causes and cures for such widespread discontent in a nation greatly blessed in natural resources.  It behooves us all to recognize the importance that good manners play in the satisfaction and enjoyment we all receive from the society in which we live.

While concern for our conduct toward others is down, the assertion of our Constitutional rights is up.  There is also a serious increase in negative political ads and the use of vulgar language.  We do business with little thought for others.  What happened to the time when a man’s word was his bond and you could do business on a handshake?  Some say civility is in a permanent state of change.  On the contrary, the basics stay the same indefinitely, and have since the earliest times of recorded history.

This is no argument for a return to a less advanced technology, but rather a simple recognition of the many stresses present-day humans have to endure that lead to poor attitudes and shortened tempers.  Indeed, a far more significant stress on interpersonal relationships is the increase in population in this and most countries.  In the past, people sometimes went a long time without seeing other humans, or were restricted to interacting with only a very few persons.  This scarcity of societal contact inherently increases the value of other persons and inclines individuals towards appreciating others.

In stark contrast to this is the all too frequent frustration of having other people crowding our lives on the highways as we drive, on lakes as we boat or sail, on city sidewalks, in restaurants and any number of other public places.  This crowding from so many people (especially in cities) causes us to appreciate each other much less, and consequently to relate to people in a less kind fashion.  It is these stresses, along with the general decline in societal morals that has led to such things as “road rage” where rudeness goes past the boundaries of crudity into the realm of unlawful acts.

Therefore, we must first recognize the raw logic that demands the exercise of common courtesy, and then move on to the art form that makes it more than a perfunctory exercise.  Good manners are an essential ingredient in a healthy society because they smooth relations with the people with whom we interact and prevent a host of problems.  More than this, good manners make life more pleasant and enjoyable.  Such courtesies actually honor God by giving respect to that part of His universe that was created in His image: humans.  When good manners are practiced sincerely, the respect that flows outward creates self-respect, something the Socialists and others of their kind try to generate through false and demeaning government-sponsored programs and clichés.

Good manners have been a concern of the South and part of our culture since the earliest times in America.  In the South, hospitality has always been a universal virtue.  The sharing of food, bed and other amenities, regardless of one’s financial status, has been second nature to Southerners.  Southerners have been known to offer help and ask for nothing in return, even turning down offers of payment for their help.

Concerning manners, every action done in the presence of company ought to be done with some sign of respect for those that are present.  The way people behave in polite society is related to how they order their society.  In determining our actions, we would do well to consider the words of Robert E. Lee, whom Winston Churchill once described as the greatest example of manhood to ever come from America.  Lee said, “I am opposed to the theory of doing wrong that good may come of it.  I hold to the belief that you must act right whatever the consequences.”

Values govern our behavior, and principles govern the consequences of our behavior.  If our values are out of alignment with enduring principles, we will suffer the negative consequences.  It is our duty to teach, promote and expect good manners from family, friends, and all others.  Otherwise, we will continue down a path that will lead eventually to anarchy.

It is the hope of all the people who contributed to this booklet that readers will explore the principles and recommendations in this booklet and then weave them into their lifestyle.  This will improve the personal, social and cultural quality of your own life and the quality of the lives of the people with whom you interact.

Note:  Individuals are freely given the right to make hard copies of this booklet for distribution so long as this booklet is given away freely.  No money, services, remuneration or other valuable consideration should ever be taken in exchange for this booklet.  Its very purpose is to produce good effect, which will begin by the simple act of giving this material away.