“Do manners discourage independent thinking? Would societies be more creative without them?”
Manners play a crucial role in our social interactions and relationships with others. As Emily Post puts it, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Good manners involve being kind, considerate, honest, and respectful towards others, which enables us to express our thoughts and opinions without causing harm or discomfort to those around us.
On the other hand, creativity involves the use of imagination and original ideas, particularly in the production of art. However, creativity and good manners do not have to be mutually exclusive. Many works of literature explore the connection between the two and demonstrate how manners can coexist with imaginative thinking. The creation and publication of a book, for example, involve many people working together, and good manners are necessary to make this collaboration possible.
It is impossible to achieve anything significant in life without the help of others. Just like the production of a simple pencil, as described in the essay “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read,” which requires the work of many people to bring it to completion. The same goes for our daily lives, where we rely on human interaction to pay rent, buy food, and carry out other essential tasks, which have become easier with the help of technology.
Etiquette, on the other hand, refers to the guidelines for social interaction, which can vary from culture to culture. However, it is crucial to use independent thinking when applying these guidelines to ensure that they are applied in a manner that does not cause harm to others or inhibit their freedoms. As Emily Post stated, “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.”
Manners and etiquette play a crucial role in shaping our social interactions and relationships with others. Good manners enable us to express our thoughts and opinions without causing harm, while etiquette provides us with guidelines for social interaction. Both manners and etiquette are essential for functioning in society and achieving our goals and aspirations.
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.