“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” ~Dr. Seuss.
For a long time… years, nay decades, I have loved to study the intricacies of social behavior among the different classes. If you think America does not have societal classes, think again my friends. That, however, is not what this post is about, today.
Today’s post is about the next step beyond etiquette.
I follow this blog: The Old Money Book by Byron Tully. Mr. Tully has written several books about money and class distinction in an attempt to share his knowledge with those who are interested in a better life for themselves, and their children.
Beyond dress, etiquette, money, etc., Mr. Tully writes about the importance of reading. He posted a passage from Edmund Burke that included this gem: ‘to have leisure to read, to reflect, to converse; to be enabled to draw and court the attention of the wise and learned, wherever they are to be found’. It hit me like a bolt of lightning; being well read is the next step up in etiquette. Being well read is aristocratic. I am not talking about reading; Fifty Shades of Gray. I am talking about READING. Reading classically but also reading about politics, modern biographies, history, etc. Yes, I have promoted reading many times in the past but for some reason, it really hit me hard when I read, Byron’s post today.
Currently, we have more leisure time than ever. No, we really do. It just seems as if we do not because of all the time we waste on social media, playing videos games and watching t.v.. Our leisure time, my leisure time, could be better spent reading more; reading as a ‘first thought’ not as an after thought. I tend to think of reading as something to do once I am caught up on my, ‘to-do’ list. Everyone seems to have an opinion these days but not much backing it up. Aside from the raging political opinions of highly controlled and censored media, or the opinions of so-and-so who heard this-and-that from a friend etc., there does not seem to be too much original thought going on these days. Outside of a political science course at university, how many people have read books on politics?
Etiquette is more than just knowing which fork to use. Etiquette is being informed before spouting one’s opinion. Etiquette is facts before feelings. It is intellect over unbridled passions. Etiquette is critical thinking over assumption, gossip, or hearsay.
What will your children do over the summer? Play (there’s nothing wrong with that), watch t.v. (a waste if that’s ALL they are doing. Socialize… better but not if it’s in the form of getting into, or causing trouble. If it’s to improve their social skills- great. Have you thought about creating a summer reading list for your children? One that includes a varied selection of, but not limited to; classics, a western (westerns are American mythos) if your child knows more about middle earth than the American west there is still time to fix that, a fairy tale or two, something political, a biography, and something ‘else’- let’s call it a free selection.
Yes, kids need to play but it does not need to be ALL that they do during the summer. All teachers lament that by the time summer is over, kids seem to have forgotten much of what they have learned the previous school year. Reading will do more for your child than endless hours on a sports field. Perhaps narrow down their sports schedule to one activity next year so that they can study more, read more, think more?
And you. What are you doing to keep your mind agile? What will you read over the next month, over the summer, for the next year? Do you have reading goals? Perhaps it is time to shake things up?