And the more I think about it, the more I think Eleanor was on to something.
There's been plenty of preaching about brotherly love and loving your neighbor and loving everything. If I'm being super honest, it's not humanly possible to love everyone. There are plenty of people I don't even like, I don't know that I'm a good enough person to love them.
But manners are doable. Being a civilized adult is attainable.
On Tuesday, I was leaving an interview with a Vietnam veteran, and was making a right turn onto what's basically Great Falls' major road. I might have miscalculated how much time I had to turn since I was in our mini-SUV thing while my Corolla was rattling like parts were falling off after my off road adventure in the mud, so I hesitated and the woman behind me had to wait an extra 20 seconds or so.
When I pulled out into the left lane, she roared up next to me to look back and make an angry face for about 10 seconds, then barely missed clipping the front of my car as she cut me off.
I'll admit to having grandma like driving skills occasionally, but I am a D.C. driver and M says I drive like a city girl, so I really don't know what it was I did to make the woman so angry, but I'm convinced that the 20 extra seconds she waited to turn did not warrant her behavior.
I'm Catholic, and there's a lot of instructions on loving other people, but more importantly, there's teachings on being a good person. We don't all have to be Mother Teresa. We don't have to be saintly. We don't have to be incredibly gracious when someone genuinely wrongs us, we can get upset, angry, happy, we can even have an internal chuckle when ridiculous things happen to someone we really don't like.
See, this is why the brotherly love thing doesn't really work. I have two sisters. I love them. If anyone tried to hurt them, I'd possibly punch that person in the face, or at least yell a lot of very big words at them. But I have been anything but good mannered to my sisters in all our years.
We've fought, called each other names, stolen each others clothes and other things, ruined things and made messes of each others lives.
So if an entire society says they're practicing brotherly love, aren't we really just being terrible to each other and calling it love?
Eleanor is right. We need more manners.
Do I get agitated while driving, most definitely. Do I yell at other drivers, flip them off, throw things out my window at them, cut them off recklessly or do other nasty things? No.
The more I think about Eleanor's words, from well before I was even born, the more I think she's absolutely right.
I see bad manners daily, hourly even. In how drivers behave on the road, how people park in the parking lot (seriously? Must you take up two spaces because you're too lazy to straighten out?), how people treat each other in the office (I'm certainly guilty of that, mostly when I get really stressed and frustrated), how total strangers treat me as a reporter or even just a person walking through the grocery store, how town residents treat each other on comment boards or during public meetings.
All of it is not brotherly love or good manners.
But preaching that we should all love each other really might be unattainable.
Bringing back good manners and proper adult behavior might really help us out though.
I was raised to polite to strangers, respect my elders, say sir and ma'am or mister and miss/mrs. I was raised to keep unkind words to myself, though I fail at this regularly, I keep it within a small circle. I was raised to generally behave in public with manners and consideration for others.
I've never really quite mastered place settings, where does the fork go? And I find myself with my elbows on the table too often, but perhaps we should all take Eleanor's advice to heart.
Forget trying to love everyone, we'll just send ourselves into a spiral of Catholic guilt when we can't do it. Trust me, Catholic guilt is real and inescapable.
But we can behave like decent, proper adults a lot more often.
Say please and thank you, walk on the right side of the sidewalk, don't call someone terrible names for being different than you, don't nearly cause an accident because you have to wait an extra 20 seconds to turn right.
Manners are in fact practical and might get us ever so closer to loving our neighbor.
And if you're an Eleanor fan, I recommend this book. It's a fun read.
Do you agree with Eleanor? Do you think a renewed focus on manners might help us all out just a bit?