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Civility: Not the Same as Respect



Joined: 12/26/2013
Posts: 3
euiyoung.kim.509
Every weekend before coming home from boarding school, I mentally prepare myself to be demure and respectful, the qualities required of an ideal Korean daughter. I have to remind myself every moment of the manners my parents tried so hard to drill into me (and failed to), because I’m the exact opposite of what society deems civil – cheeky and bad-mannered.

Just last week, Mother told me over the phone that she didn’t approve of my best friend because she was bad at English. You have to stick with the top students, so why is she on your mock trial team? She’s going back to Australia next year anyways, she’ll drag you down and you can't let that happen, do you understand? Dozens of kids around and you had to choose that one.

At that moment, if Mother took a look at my mind and the things I didn’t speak out loud by force of will, she would have had an aneurysm, the vulgarity and sass too much for her to tolerate. I could just imagine her frowning and admonishing me, is that any way to talk to your mother? For a second, I considered yelling at her that she didn’t know my friend as well as I did, that she had no right to mess around with my school life, and that I wanted to spend whatever little time I had left with my friend.

Instead, I answered with a polite “no, mother,” using the appropriate honorific (which many Korean kids nowadays forego). And all the while I scared everyone off with an aura of pure menace and frustration. Mother disapproved, of course, but after half an hour of rational reasoning, instead of screaming what I was dying to say, I was able to convince her that I was quite capable of handling myself without her much appreciated guidance. It was all I could do not to say something that smacked of impertinence.

I am a well-mannered lady at home (or at least I try to be) and a cocky punk at school. Civility has never suited me, except when I need it in front of my parents or in the company of strangers. My friends can't reconcile the dichotomy between my two selves, the real me that swears like a sailor, kick doors open and gives sarcastic eye rolls, and the civil face I keep for outsiders, suffocating but necessary.

The thing is, civility is what makes me socially acceptable and keeps my relationships relatively problem-free. I wear it like an armor when I face my teachers and elders. Even when I hate it, it feels strangely natural to open the door for the next person, to say excuse me and thank you and sorry, to respect personal space, and to keep quiet in public places. I don’t know if people are less civil than before, but what I do know is that what’s more important than civility itself is mutual respect and understanding – that has to precede manners.
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Comment by thiegsr


Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire StageofLife.com editorial board, I would like to congratulate you as being selected as one of the twelve runners up for the December / Civility writing contest. This is a huge honor and you should celebrate your accomplishment. We will be notifying the winner of the contest by January 20th after our editors have a chance to tally the final results.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World, One Story at a Time”

Sincerely,
Rebecca Thiegs
StageofLife.com Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2014 6:09:03 PM
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Comment by thiegsr


Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire StageofLife.com editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your December Civility essay being selected as our winning essay. We will be contacting you via your registration email with more details.

Be proud of your accomplishment! We had many great essays this month, and yours was selected out of all the entries as the best.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World, One Story at a Time”

Sincerely,
Rebecca Thiegs
StageofLife.com Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014 5:42:57 PM
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Comment by Sara7272


Joined: 2/21/2014
Posts: 3
This is really good! :)
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 4:20:20 AM
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