“Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.” – Edmund Burke
I remember wondering why manners were so important as a child. It was easy enough to develop good ones, especially under the watchful eye of parents who wouldn’t let much – even in a house full of boys – slip. The more difficult part was growing into the understanding the spirit behind good manners.
In my experience, the spirit of any matter is far more important than the letter of it. Any child can mimic someone with good manners and create the impression of politeness, but the thin shell of civility quickly fades when that person is put in an uncomfortable or high-pressure situation.
The truly well-mannered child, however, is one whose manners spring from a deep fidelity to the spirit of love. In such a child manners are not divorced from the contents of his heart; they are one.