Rules of Civility

George Washington wrote out a copy of “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation“, a collection of maxims written in the late sixteenth century in France, when he was about sixteen years old. They’re all quite interesting and useful, but one in particular stood out to me today:

89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

I shall follow this point for the rest of my days.

Will you join me?


10 thoughts on “Rules of Civility

  1. [Rather, speak well of the absent, if impossible speak nothing at all. This is just]

    Training ones eye’s, ear’s, and heart to see what’s right, is beneficial for all.


  2. Joy

    Ah what a wonderful foundation for this country to be built on. I long for the day when the people revere once again the qualities that President Washington conveyed and elect such ones, once again, into positions of leadership.


  3. David R

    So many opinions are strongly formed and courses set without ever really hearing and considering the view of the person about whom they are formed! It is seemingly easier to circumvent the inconvenience of really looking at the concerns of another, easier to cut that person out of the picture, to convict him or her without due process. But there is an element of cowardice and dishonesty here.

    So often civilities are looked at in superficial terms, but genuine civility is the basis for honest function, deep relationships and all that is truly creative.


  4. Chuck Reddick

    Yes I will join you as I too learned a long time ago that to speak ill of others behind their back is nothing but petty gossip and in fact a reflection of how I actually feel about myself. And others see it that way as well which likely means that we do it to build up ourselves but in fact we are actually tearing ourselves down.


  5. Teryl Worster

    Thanks for sharing that document. You can clearly see after reading it in its entirety that George Washington indeed was a true leader. His words and concerns if heeded by his men give a much different picture to me of what life may have been like in his company. This should be printed and followed today in schools, businesses and in homes. Civility is lost on so many. Thank you!


  6. Lady Leo

    George Washington, I read, did that as a moral compass for his own life. If you read the accounts of how he dealt with Benedict Arnold and the treachery of General Charles Lee, they are a window into how this particular maxim served him. His reputation as a fair minded man was well known. He wouldn’t tolerate gossip and that is often what this amounts to. I’ll bet today that would reduce 90% of the discourse on the internet. Great idea!


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