Wednesday, 11 September 2013


I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring the books “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent” written by Tom Hodgkinson.  I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 23 – Sail away from rudeness and towards a new era of courtesy, civility and grace – BE GRACEFUL

Tom starts off by suggesting that capitalism and rudeness go hand in hand.  He suggests that the emphasis on “doing well”, “being successful” and “having money” get in the way of thinking about how other people feel and being kind to them.  People trying to sell you things you don’t want – bad manners; people focusing on their mobile phone when spending time with you – bad manners; to say nothing of the rudeness with which big business treats you if you owe them any money.  E-mails encourage abruptness, and often we spend time trying to fix misunderstandings and bruised feelings, just because we couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone or write a more complete, and polite, e-mail.

Hospitality also goes hand-in-hand with good manners.  It’s important to look after our fellow humans, to extend a welcome to all.

Be cordial, be polite, think about how other people feel and don’t tread all over them in the race to be “better”.

How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?

I can’t quite get my head around this chapter.  I’ll always strive to do my best and be successful, so according to Mr Hodgkinson, that makes me rude, despite the fact that I have no intention of treading all over other people or being rude on the way.  I use e-mail a lot, though I am conscious that in some cases a phone call would be better, and I do still try to write at least one pen and ink letter every week – I know what a pleasure it is to receive one, so I am always keen to give that to somebody else.  Hospitality is also something I think I could do better.  I try to make my home welcoming to everybody, and use the “make yourself at home” comment, but neighbours and friends rarely drop by, so I don’t get a chance to practise often.  Which reminds me, I must invite the next door neighbours over for a meal on Sunday, I’ve been meaning to do so for months.

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