As I’m reading through this book on etiquette, I am reminded of a few of my own thoughts on the topic in general. I want to be more refined, cross all my T’s and dot all of my i’s, but it seems at times that etiquette can go a little too far. My response is not in relation to the book, but to etiquette. I’m still in the thought process, so I invite you to join.
One thing mentioned in the book is that it is rude to have the guests at a baby shower address their own envelopes because it speaks to the guests that they are not worth the time. I would say that if someone thought that in response to being asked to address an envelope, they are the rude one. It is always my opinion that the real guest is the expectant mother. It is considerate to think of her and to do anything you can to help alleviate any stress around the time of her delivery… Anyway.
It seems that some rules of etiquette are merely an effort to take away individualism, personality, and variety in order to make other people comfortable. So what if someone wants to wear white socks with dress shoes? It is not the best fashion choice, but are they really doing anyone any harm? When we have/follow all of these etiquette rules we run the risk of devaluing people if they aren’t following the same guidelines that we live by. There are so many social rules to live by and most of them have no bearing or merit, and leave no room for compassion. Then, again, others are very helpful for maintaining social order–peace.
What should really be addressed more is not what we should be doing to be socially proper, but how we should respond when someone else is not meeting our expectations of what is socially proper. We should respond in a way of understanding and forgiveness. In a way of “get over it” and “let it go.” Not with disgust, rudeness, or derogation–at that point we are no better than the very people we insult for not doing it the “right way”?