Thinking Citizen Blog — Choices and Breeding: Manners Mirror the Soul

Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day

Today’s Topic — Choices and Breeding: Manners Mirror the Soul

Some people don’t care what others think. Are they right? Others care a lot. Are they wrong? What others think of you depends on your behavior. Not so much what you do as the how of it. As an adolescent in the late 1960s, I scorned the idea of “good manners.” To me, they were evidence of hypocrisy. Relics of a bygone, patriarchal era. Just be yourself. To hell with appearances. If you feel like it, do it. If you feel like saying something, say it. A half century later, my view has changed. Dramatically. Today, my view is the there is nothing more central to education than the how of daily life. What used to be called “manners” or “etiquette.” This is not about subservience to random rules but obedience to the first of ethical principles — love, aka respect for oneself and others. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.” (Thomas More, Utopia, portrait above)

2. “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” (Robert Henlein, Friday)

3. “It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude. To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility, is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire. For politeness is like a counter — an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.” (Schopenhauer, portrait below)

NB: “There is no rest for the person who has envy, and there is no love for the person who has bad manners.” (Ibn Abdul-Talib)

ARE WE A DYING CULTURE? Trump, Biden, Covid

1. Trump lowered the bar when it comes to manners.

2. Biden’s plan to get rid of the filibuster is seen by some as part of a general tendency on the part of Democrats to demonize the other side.

3. Today, the talk of potential civil war is everywhere. Is this hysteria? Is this just frayed nerves as Covid drags on?

NB: Gun purchases are up sharply. Is this the rational response to reduced policing? or a terrifying metric of our fraying social fabric?


1. The right thing to do is what would be good for the world if everybody did it.

2. Intemperate speech may be a constitutional right but it is an ethical wrong. To not teach this in school, home, and communities is pedagogically criminal.

3. Prudence is the habit of considering the consequences of actions or speech before speaking or acting.

NB: Rudeness obeys Newton’s Third Law. For every act of rudeness, an equal and opposite reaction. (Above is a portrait of Newton.)

Opinion | Rudeness Is on the Rise. You Got a Problem With That?

Manners Quotes (405 quotes)

Opinion | America Is Falling Apart at the Seams

Opinion | Kyrsten Sinema’s Filibuster Defense

All kinds of bad behavior is on the rise

Ali ibn Abi Talib Quotes (Author of The Religions Book)

Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib — Wikipedia

For the last four years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store