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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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