Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 1, 1964

A Vanishing Virtue

1102 N. Mound St., Nacogdoches, Texas

It is obvious to even the casual observer that we live in an era when common courtesy, or politeness, coming from individuals spontaneously, is about as scarce as the proverbial "chicken teeth." When absolutely necessary, many are able to successfully hold forth a 'front:" and people are often courteous to those toward whom they expect to receive some favor or profit in return, or those 'toward whom they feel compelled to so behave. But we are speaking of pure, common courtly politeness, such as the young man arising upon the entrance of an elder person to offer his chair, or the opening of the door for the lady, or the polite expressions "Sir" or "Madam."

This dearth of courtesy, or politeness, has come to pass throughout the nation, and certainly is not confined to our relationships with strangers. Such an attitude and disposition is then manifest in innumerable family circles. It is common place to hear a youngster refer to his father by the revolting expression, "The Old Man," or to his mother by the even more disgusting expression, "The Old Lady." (With many this is the rule, rather than the exception. Time was when such a one would have been recognized as a "smart-aleck," but now he is simply thought to be a "cool cat.") It one is so devoid of politeness and respect for his parents how can we expect him to respect others?

Perhaps these conditions have been brought about by many things impinging upon today's society, and we would not wish to be guilty of over 'simplification of the matter by assigning only one or two things as the prime causes. But it seems that standing at the very front of the contributing factors is the intense emphasis placed upon matters material. This materialistic mind breeds discourtesy If, therefore, humanity expects to continue with pleasant relations, it must return to placing more emphasis upon true piety, spiritually, and respect one for another. Let parents be taught to cultivate courtesy for one another, and mutual respect, which certainly is involved in the Holy Spirit's requirements that the wife submit herself to her own husband, and that the husband love his wife, even as Christ loved the church. (Eph. 5:2227) And let children be disciplined to "honor their father and mother," as is imposed by the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 6:1-4.) And let all be indoctrinated with the "golden rule," that, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.

In the Religious Historian, edited by Tolbert Fanning, Vol. 1., No. 6, 1872, there appears a splendid article which might well have been written for the present American citizenry. The article, signed simply C. F. appears below. We think it contains thought worthy of consideration, and advice worthy of reception and application:

"Courteous behaviour is very beautiful in the young, and makes all feel an interest in them. Boys are often deficient in this respect. They can be respectful and polite for an hour or two when it suits them, but I have known some who were not so every day at home. They were rough, noisy and unpleasant, and asserted their consequence, in a most unconsequential manner. I feel sorry for young persons who cultivate such a disposition! They are laying up sorrow for future years. They are storing up sad memories for the time, when they would give the world to look back, and say, "I have done my duty." I have been kind to my sister, respectful to my father. I have done all I could to make my mother happy, and the consciousness of duty performed is very sweet, now she is lying so still and pale. Boys who are rough and overbearing at home, are forming charters unfit for time or eternity. They are forming habits that will be so hard to break, should they ever wish to become cultivated men. One who is impolite and passionate to his mother, will be so in his association with men, and it is often the case, he is murdered by some one he has angered, or he himself takes the life of a fellow being.

"Most boys are pleasant in manner, if a bright eyed, rosy faced girl makes her appearance. They would not on any account speak roughly to her. They should be more cautious never to say an unkind word to a feeble weary mother or to a young sister who is helping to bear the burdens of life.

"I would ask boys, if they wish to be happy at home, and to have no sad memories in future, to be courteous every day. Study to avoid unkind actions and words. Be as polite to your mother and sisters, as you are to young ladies of your acquaintance, and you will be well repaid by their tender love. Cultivate at home, kind and gentle manners. Love your mother, young friend. When you do wrong, she is praying for you, and her heart is full of anguish. Be tender to her always. Observe how much she is gratified when you show her respect and affection. Let her not pine for the love it should be your greatest happiness to manifest. Don't make her feel, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child." Yes, love your mother — she will soon pass away, and you cannot then atone to your dead, for the stinted affection you gave her, for the light answers you returned to her plaints and her pleadings. Be gentle to your sisters. They may be light and thoughtless now — may sometimes be provoking — but be courteous, still. They will leave the old home, and go out to bear the sorrows of earth as best they may. They will meet with unkindness, and often walk on their way with heavy hearts. Let them look back to their brothers, and their earthly home, with sweet memories — memories of soft tones, gentle deeds and loving glances. Let the music of the vanished years be pleasant, although tones of mournfulness are mingled with it. Reflect on these matters, and if you wish to lay up treasures that cannot be taken from you, learn while young, to be courteous."