Folkways

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.        Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

Folkways are norms that stem from and organize casual interactions, and emerge out of repetition and routines. We engage in them to satisfy our daily needs, and they are most often unconscious in operation, though they are quite useful for the ordered functioning of society                                                      William Graham Sumner

We are in the practice of observing accepted folkways in our every-day life, typically without giving any thought to that behavior whatsoever. That is, until someone breaks the unwritten rule.

There are numerous examples of folkways, though not all would agree upon them. For example, waiting in line for a good or service; shaking hands upon meeting someone (yep, that one is changing right before our eyes); holding the door for the person behind you; tipping your server; accepted dress for certain occasions; saying “thank you”; observing personal space when with strangers; maintaining or diverting eye contact in social situations. The list goes on and on.  

We observe these social norms without thinking. We also are developing new ones all the time. For example, there are norms for social media, such as use of emoji’s; when to text and when to call; when to use or not use email vs. personal contact, etc. Again, the lists are endless and we take them for granted.

My point is that among these folkways, you can also see that courteous behavior is part of the very fabric of folkways. Over the years it appears to me that we have become somewhat less courteous as a society. Yes, I’ll beat you to it- I’m an old guy and I see the world with some different lenses. Yet, I would contend that the very need for folkways to help regulate society is based upon the need for courtesy and respect.

In order to have a well-functioning society, we need to maintain those folkways that keep us courteous and respectful.

In the word of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that”  

Prayer: Lord we realize that treating others with respect and courtesy honors you, Amen

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