Monday, February 15, 2016

Civil Society

Recently when I visited a blog friend and read her latest post, a non-controversial post, I was appalled to read a comment someone left her. My jaw dropped open as she left line after line about what she did not like about the blog.


In what way was this necessary?

I wished that I could magically have the commenter spend some time with Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie. 

"But it was so easy, thought Isabel. It was so easy dealing with people who were well-mannered...They knew how to exchange those courtesies which made life go smoothly, which was what manners were all about.....

Good manners depended on paying moral attention to others; it required one to treat them with complete moral seriousness, to understand their feelings and their needs. Some people, the selfish, had no inclination to do this, and it always showed. They were impatient with those they thought did not count...manners were the basic building block of civil society."
                                                           Alexander McCall Smith
                                                           The Lost Art of Gratitude

If you've never read the very pleasant McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie novels set in modern day Edinburgh, you're in for a treat. 

Isabel's very handsome boyfriend Jamie, many years her junior, becomes her husband by the time you get to later books in the series.

And that is sometimes the reward for a well-mannered brilliant lady such as Isabel!

Go, Isabel!

What's a post without a picture, so here is what I think Isabel might look like if you updated the woman in this portrait by Holman Hunt for today's woman...

Jamie--her Jamie--said this about Isabel in The Lost Art of Gratitude:

"Holman Hunt might have painted you."

Doesn't she look kind? Well-mannered?


  1. For those of you who thought I had a different post running now--I did! It was supposed to contain my video but the video would not play if you clicked on it. In trying to fix it, I accidentally deleted it. So I decided to run this post that was scheduled for later in the week.

    Apologies for any confusion!


  2. Yeah, certainly been there at that end of the stick. It sure does happen!

  3. I love this picture, Dewena, and Yes, she looks well mannered. My dear mom always taught us to say please and thank you, and you don't hear too much of that any more. Manners go a long way, and I think manners and loveliness go hand in hand.

    Have a good week, Dewena.

    love, ~Sheri

  4. Dearest Dewena,

    I a SO WITH YOU HERE. I totally agree that manners have been lost in the "art" of bringing up children and also in how we treat one another. I don't know, but this is just my theory; I wonder if our new faceless ways of communication via the internet has allowed some to think that they can say what they want! I have had just a few incidents where I was shocked to see how people think they can treat a total stranger!

    I agree. Manners and courtesy, respect and admiration for older people are gifts that are becoming rare. The only thing I can think of doing is to continue and try to remember to be all the things I wish existed!

    Thank you so much for coming to leave a KIND and lovey comment! Enjoy your day! Anita

  5. Thankfully I haven't endured any of those nasty comments just yet....I don't know why people can't remember what my mom used to say - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

  6. It's so easy to say something positive or just nothing at all. Why make a critical comment? We blog because it is how we feel and should not be judged for it. What happened to good manners? Don't you wish sometime for the manners of those Downton Abbey characters?

  7. That's so sad that your friend received a snarky comment. I've often thought that what some people think and say about others is more a reflection of themselves. There is always a gracious way to speak your mind.

    I will definitely have to look up these books, you haven't steered me wrong yet. I'm reading my Gladys Taber treasure veeeeeeey slowly---savoring every word. I'm also excited to read more of her books. Lovely!


  8. Ugh! That's terrible :(.

    I think being faceless via the Internet has definitely contributed to rudeness.Thankfully I haven't experienced that, but I kinda figure if/when I do that means I made it. ;)

  9. Obviously this person was not from the old school of, If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
    I haven't had any ugly remarks on my blog, but I received a few on Hometalk once about a porch I had redone. Really pathetic...

  10. I do not understand for the life of me why some people cannot exhibit courtesy towards one another. I've seen comments on some blogs that were so mean, hurtful and hateful that I was ashamed of the entire human race. What does one gain out of hurting another or being spiteful? Great post sweet friend! Love and hugs to you!!

  11. I've never had anyone leave a hateful comment about me on my blog.
    but oddly enough they left one about me once on someone else's blog that we both follow! it was the strangest feeling to find it there. and it made me feel like I'd been slapped in the face! or struck from behind!

    this post is beautiful. and she is beautiful isn't she!
    about the necessity in a civil world for considering another's feelings. that's all good manners are I think.
    feeling for the other person as well as one's self.

    i'm trying to live by my four words I wrote about in that recent post. they've become my mantra of a sort...
    "how would I feel?" they fit every situation! XOXO♥

    you've mentioned those books before and I forgot to try them. this time I WILL! thanks!

  12. I'm going to see if my local library has this author. The books sound really comforting and nice.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  13. I too agree that people say things behind a screen they wouldn't say in person.

  14. I feel badly that this happened to your friend. That's so disheartening. I agree with the comments from Anita and Doreen. Fred Astaire said "The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any." The Holman Hunt painting reminds me of a Jane Austen heroine. Hope you're well, Dewena. Hugs, Nancy

  15. I'm so sorry to hear that your blogging friend encountered that. I've heard others say they've either experienced it themselves or have seen it, too. A good reminder to all of us to remember that kindness is key!

  16. Some people today do not have manners at all. So frustrating to see this. I am sorry your friend was subjected to this. There are some wacko people out there. This painting looks so elegant and posed. xo

  17. I am appalled by the lack of manners I see in real life all the time. It's very upsetting to me that this is the world my kids are growing up in, saddens me. I definitely think that the internet has made it worse.

  18. Sad to read about what happened to your friend ...

    I do like the picture you've used here and yes, she looks well mannered. I haven't read this author - must investigate further.

    Enjoy the rest of your week

    All the best Jan

  19. I cut out cable years ago so while I do watch movies on Amazon or by renting or purchasing DVD's, I do not watch television. However I recall being appalled by the talk shows and reality shows that I saw from time to time...usually one of my kids watching them...and when you think that a generation is being raised watching television today, versus Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best and The Waltons, etc. it boggles the mind but explains very much the horrible behavior that one often sees now.

  20. Good post - i've seen this happen before. i enjoyed the excerpt .

  21. It is a sad thing that is happening to our world. I try so hard to stay positive. Last week our check out girl was so mean to our bagger fella. He was new to his job. I just wanted to hug him. I did stop and thank him for doing a job well done.
    You are right with what you shared today. :-)
    Happy Wednesday,

  22. Unpleasant people annoy me, so much so ugly thoughts enter my head and I entertain thoughts of smacking them. Of course I don't; unfortunately, not because I'm such a nice person but I'm more concerned with being arrested. lol
    So, I limit my association with unpleasant people; avoiding them, not associating with them and should one leave a rude comment on my blog...delete!
    One wonders why they think their opinion matters anyway.

  23. I've started writing for a large newspaper, and my new editors have warned me that the online commenters are brutal and to expect lots of hate mail - even for simple stories about cooking! Yikes!

  24. It's awful, isn't it? I once had a stalker on my old blog and she went to the trouble of going to anyone's blog that defended me. It's a little bit of why I quit that blog. Cowards love to hide behind their words. Sad but true.

    hugs to you, my friend,

  25. Cowards hide behind computer screens and bully those with whom they disagree. I wrote for many years for The Dallas Morning News, which had a huge subscription base back in those days. My columns were mostly essays, the slice-of-life type, but occasionally I wrote editorials. I prepared myself for the mean comments and emails and letters that came, and the best part was I learned to let it go right over my head. One reader even told me I had "angry" eyes. LOL! People will say what they say and I guess I'd rather make them mad than put them to sleep.

    I agree, though, in the land of blogging, if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all.

  26. I don't understand what makes people do thinks like that. I can only think that by making someone else feel bad, they make themselves feel better. It's how I used to explain bullies to my son. I haven't had any really negative comments, just a couple that were a tad rude.

  27. I hope your friend has been able to forget this unfortunate incident, Dewena. It is a shame that such behaviours still exist in our oh-so civilized society. I wonder if such conduct is the result of insecurity, jealousy, or plain meanness. Whatever the case, it is unacceptable, sad, and worrisome.

    The lovely, young lady in the portrait reminds me of Drew Barrymore, who I believe is a very sweet soul, and would make the perfect leading lady in a period piece about civil society!

    P.S.: And speaking of leading ladies, did you hear that a 'Gilmore Girls' special is in the making as we speak?!!!

  28. Thank you for reminding us all of the importance of manners, kindness, temperance and gracious living.
    I long for those days again.

  29. People such as the one who mentioned leaving an awful comment just have no class whatsoever. They do need a bit of manner training, well, perhaps, a lot.

  30. Hi Dewena,
    I rarely see rude comments posted on blogs but when I do it makes my blood boil. I am sorry for your friend who received the rude comment. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

    I understand how you felt when you saw that comment on your friend's blog! Hoping good manners makes a come back.....soon!