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Courtesy, again

Poster: Carol_O'Leary@ed.gov (Carol O'Leary)

     poster:  Melisande de Belvoir <Carol_O'Leary@ed.gov>
     Good Greetings to All at the Merry Rose and Cheapside!  Like 
     yesterday's anonymous poster, I am a Lady of the Rose.  While I agree 
     wholeheartedly with my sister that fostering courtesy is the special 
     charge of our Order, I find myself with a very different opinion of 
     what that means.
     Please note that I am posting this essay as a Lady of the Rose and as 
     a concerned Atlantian, NOT as a member of the Board of Directors.
     The Society and its members value courtesy highly.  This is a premise 
     that has guided its existence from its earliest days, and is one of 
     the characteristics that drew many of us to join it at the outset.  
     Courtesy is, to some extent, the backbone of the organization and a 
     fundamental quality in its activities.
     Either as a result of that or because the Society tends to draw its 
     members from people who prize courtesy, we have a long history of 
     giving people many more "chances" than most other segments of the 
     population would.  We have a paradigm that says it would be rude to 
     tell people when their behavior is not in accordance with community 
     standards, whether on or off the fighting field.  We have no model for 
     telling people when their behavior is unacceptable, shy of calling a 
     Court of Chivalry, which doesn't happen until things have gone way 
     beyond the point where some gentle advice might have been effective.
     WE MUST CHANGE THIS PARADIGM.  We must learn to deal with issues of 
     inappropriate behavior -- martial, social, political, fiscal, or 
     whatever, in persons of whatever rank or degree -- in appropriate 
     ways.  We must learn not to hide dirty laundry in dark corners, for it 
     will never be clean if it is not washed and aired.  We must learn not 
     to hide our heads in the sand like the ostriches do, for that does not 
     make the problem go away.  We must recognize that wrongdoing is 
     discourteous of itself; why is it more discourteous to take the 
     wrongdoer to task for his wrongdoing than it is for him to behave 
     inappropriately in the first place?  Is it reasonable to allow the 
     discourteous to behave discourteously in our midst and to excuse their 
     discourtesy on the grounds that they are discourteous?  That way lies 
     the slippery slope to oblivion.  We must learn to police ourselves so 
     that our neighbors have no need to call our honor into question.  We 
     must learn that discussion is never so dangerous as refusal to face 
     problems head-on, and that it is better to address those problems 
     sooner than later.  We must learn to challenge the sin but not the 
     sinner -- to tell the one whose actions we dislike that his *actions* 
     were unacceptable, not that *he* is unacceptable.  We must, as a 
     community, take responsibility for helping wrongdoers understand what 
     they did that was offensive, why it was offensive, and how they could 
     improve their behavior.
     We could wish it were not so; we could wish that everyone's 
     understanding of honor and courtesy precisely matched our own.  
     Unfortunately, that is not now the case.  Until such day as that 
     commonality of understanding comes about, we must, if we are not to 
     come to civil war (which is way out of period!), do better at 
     communicating our concerns each with the others.
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