This weekend marks what would have been my mother’s 86th birthday. She died 14 years ago, but her persistent voice is so imbedded in my brain that I still can hear some of her admonitions and demands. I don’t think she ever used the word civility, but she was insisted on it. In her world, it was simply called “manners.” We didn’t have a lot of money, but she drilled into my sister and me that money can’t buy manners and manners can take you places money has never been. I used to think, “yeah, but money could take me to Disneyland.” I never made my childhood dream of going to Disneyland, but the lesson on manners was not forgotten. If I failed to say “please, thank you, yes sir/no sir; yes ma’am/no ma’am” I could expect an icy stare, verbal rebuke, and depending on the circumstances, an abrupt physical contact. When I failed to live up to her rigid standards of polite behavior, I would sometimes be challenged with the question, “were you raised by wolves?” When beyond arms reach, I would sometimes display my inner smart aleck self and say, “You and Dad raised me….so you tell me.” She never thought it was as funny as I did. It was drilled into me that no matter how little we might have had in material things, we could always afford to treat others like we wanted to be treated. Our culture today seems devoid of manners. People shout at each other, talk over each other, and use profanity indiscriminately and gratuitously. Rude and selfish behavior has become routine even in business and political circles. Technology has given us the capacity to communicate by way of smart phones, but smart obviously isn’t the same as polite. Selfie photos—so ubiquitous that world leaders routinely snap them even at memorial services of other world leaders—demonstrate just how far we’ve slipped from social norms of courtesy and propriety. Can you imagine Franklin Roosevelt whipping out an iPhone and snapping a shot of himself with Churchill at Yalta? Or Ronald Reagan, grabbing his iPad and asking Margaret Thatcher to ham it up with him for quick pic? The political environment of our country is infected with people who have replaced public service with self-service. Belittling and degrading comments are made behind the cowardly wall of a screen name on blogs and FB posts. Why should we be surprised that government is dysfunctional when meanness has replaced manners in our interactions with one another? And it’s not just the 2 political parties going at it. I watch fellow Republicans gnaw on each other like dogs gnaw on bones, fighting imaginary dragons and labeling other Republicans with the slightest of difference in opinion or tactic a “rino,” or “squish,” or “wacko bird.” If my mother were still around, she’d probably lay down her 10 commandments on some things: 1. If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything. 2. Wait your turn to talk. 3. Respect your elders. 4. Don’t talk back. 5. Never curse in front of a lady. In fact, just don’t curse. 6. Never mistreat an animal. 7. Let others go in front of you. 8. Always say “please, and thank you; yes sir, and no sir” 9. Never take more than once piece of candy, and 10. Keep your clothes, your mind, and your mouth clean. I think those rules could make Washington better. But maybe the people there WERE raised by wolves.

Comments 1-5 of 11

  • Jeff Drinnan

    12/28/2013 08:30 PM


    Your comment that being poor is no excuse for incivility is refreshing. Years ago, when I did an environmental education program in a Pennsylvania State Park for a summer camp, the kids were unruly. One of the counselors told me "they aren't doing to listen to you; they are from low income households." I told her that income has nothing to do with behavior. I think she thought I was wierd and didn't comment further. My parents taught me civility and to respect others, no matter what their station in life, and enforced it! When I was 17, the janitors at a school had left the doors open and other kids and I used the basketball court. The janitors kicked us out. I couldn't start my car and my Mom came. I got mouthy with the janitors and sarcastically asked if she would side with these (N-word) janitors. She immediately slapped me and told the men she was sorry for my ignorance and told me to apologize to them. I did, and it just wasn't because I had to. The older of the two men echoed what I was taught - to never look down on people. I realized I was wrong and the apology was genuine. And I was never racist. I used to visit my Dad at work in Philadelphia in the summer and there was an all purpose black man I called "Mr. Cornel", out of respect for my elders, and I had great respect for him.

    BTW, a few years ago your animal expert guest explained that dogs urinate to send messages the way we send emails. You suggested it be called "P-mail". Ever since, when my dog urinates in the woods I say "she's sending a P-mail."

  • Theodore L. Crawford III

    12/25/2013 11:46 AM

    I keep reading comments to the effect that "we'll just vote 'em out next election". However, it seems that the ballot box is not sacred any more. It's gotten to where the vote count can be skewed, and hopefully it's just my paranoia, but if certain people have their way with our government in the next few years, there may not even BE an option to vote! I said all that to say that the ONLY vote that truly matters is the one done on your knees to the God And Father Of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's increase our prayer vigil, not only for this troubled United States of America, but for troubled Israel as well, and expand it to cover the world!

  • Mike Bambino

    12/22/2013 12:03 PM

    It's time all Christians take a stand even if that stand is unpopular. I'm like Phil, straight forward, not politically correct, and love to tell the truth. That's why I started If America goes down, Christians will have no one to blame but themselves!Hope you run in 2016. This country desperately needs a real Christian at the helm again.

  • Scerita A. Dugas

    12/19/2013 07:29 PM

    Gov. I agree with you. My mother had the same rules about manners. I think those in Washington could probably use some manners; but, I don't hold out much hope for the current occupants of D.C. But, of course there is always 2014 and 2016 when "we the people" can make some changes.

  • Shirley Capes

    12/16/2013 02:21 PM

    Thanks Gov, Huckabee, it is well worth nothing,I am older than you. My parents did as your
    Parents did.Teach me the finer ways to behave
    I have still done the same as they taught me.
    I taught my children as well, thet still have those same manners as of today, their children ,like
    I wise. I'm sure they look down and say about you and I, Well done! Merry Christmas Sir
    And. Blessed NewYear,

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