Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think it is good, every now and then, to briefly remind ourselves of the virtue of civility, or good manners. It isn’t always easy to be emotionally, and sometimes even physically, jostled by the rudeness of others and then turn the proverbial other cheek. We can much more easily put up a shield of anger, sarcasm or disdain.

However, every time we are tempted to push back when faced with unkindness, we are to be commended if we, instead, return it with kindness. In doing so we are expressing our moral convictions and are among a vast host of companions in this troubled world who are like-minded and who would encourage our efforts to be civil. 

I’m not advocating for martyrdom or taking on the character of a punching bag, but we need to carefully choose when and how to defend ourselves. The petty sacrifices of which Emerson wrote are actually acts of self-control and, sometimes, bravery. And they do make a difference.

How will our world ever become kinder if we are not the ones to make it so? 

“Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.” — Mark Twain

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at