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Friday, September 18, 2015

A polite Society



“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”


― Robert A. Heinlein, Beyond This Horizon

Old Robert had a point. Sometimes I think we have the worse of all possible worlds: a well armed impolite society.

It's a darn shame that so many foolish people make the mistake of equating manners with weakness. Manners is one of those things that keeps a civilized society functioning with a minimum of mayhem. Good manners keep misunderstandings from escalating into violence. That polite pause gives logic and reason a chance to kick in. Otherwise we act upon emotion -often not our best response.

One does not have to be disagreeable to disagree. There are those who've mistaken my mild mannered ways for weakness. Then they are surprised when they discover I will stand firm and will not be moved.

In some cultures it's normal to make a lot of threats with no intention of following through. Threats, yelling, screaming and fist waving are all part of normal communication. They are genuinely surprised when a westerner reacts by punching them in the nose.

I was raised to never threaten anyone. However, if they truly need a punch in the nose, punch them in the nose. Threats only broadcast your intentions and that puts them on their guard.

Fortunately for most people, even those who truly need a punch in the nose, I'm a polite person. My status is not threatened by someone's foul worlds. On the flip side, just because someone else has more status than me doesn't stop me from disagreeing with them -as always, politely, but firmly.

Heinlein's theory was that if everyone was armed and prepared to defend themselves rudeness would be a very bad idea indeed. Maybe we should treat everyone as if they were well armed and prepared to defend themselves. Politeness couldn't hurt, right?

-Sixbears

12 comments:

  1. Been reading RAH for around 55 years or so, he was a very wise individual, even if he had some quirks (as we all do). Agree totally regarding 'threats' - far too many folks don't comprehend that what they might perceive as a threat (usually 'cuz that's how they operate) is either a statement of FACT accompanied by the implicit promise that the fact will occur.

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    1. RAH wrote some fun books. He's way too politically incorrect these days, but I've some of that my own self.

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  2. Sometimes being polite is so very, very difficult...

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    1. I'm not saying it's easy. Sometimes we are sorely tested.

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  3. Politeness is wasted on some people, who behave like a pack of jabbering chimpanzees. Then you just have to hold your nose and your temper. If you can.....

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    1. There are times I'm polite more to stick to my own code. It's for me, not for the jabbering chimps.

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  4. Yes, I sure do agree that "an armed society is a polite society". I believe that everyone should be armed.

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    1. It would give someone pause, wouldn't it?

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  5. And in the south most of the rural population is armed. And of course the south is courteous. The only ones I haven't seen courteous are people from up north that come south. They bring their defensive attitude of make no eye contact with them when they retire here.

    Just my two cents.

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    1. The rural north is pretty well armed too Wade.

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  6. And by accent they seem to be from NY or Jersey. And not rural. Of course this is all just a generalization. :)

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    1. For what's it worth, they can just as rude when they go to their summer places in rural NH.

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