Thursday, May 13, 2010

George Washington's 110 Rules

I recently stumbled upon a list of 110 rules of civility followed by the first President of the United States, George Washington. The entire list can be found here: George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. The original document was written in an older version of English, so it may sound a bit odd. Many of the rules seem trivial or even silly, but I wanted to share some of them because the overall idea is extraordinarily important. Just try to take in the general message, since it's impossible to incorporate all these at once. Here are some of the highlights (note: many of these guidelines for interpersonal conduct are rooted in the Torah):

- Treat everyone with respect

- Be considerate of others; never embarrass another person

- Don't draw attention to yourself

- When you speak, be concise

- Do not argue with your superiors; submit your ideas with humility

- When a person does their best and fails, don't criticize them

- When you must give advice or criticism, make sure the time, place and manner are appropriate

- If someone corrects you, let it go; if you were wrongly judged, correct it later

- Do not make fun of anything important to others

- If you criticize someone or something, make sure you are not guilty of it yourself; actions speak louder than words

- Do not be quick to believe bad reports about others

- Associate with good people; it's better to be alone than in bad company

- Always allow reason to govern your actions

- Never break the rules in front of your subordinates

- Some things are better kept secret

- A person should not overly value their own accomplishments

- Neither detract from others nor be overbearing in giving orders

- Do not go where you are not wanted; do not give unsolicited advice

- When two people disagree, do not take one side or the other; be flexible in your own opinions

- Do not correct others when it is not your place to do so

- Do not compare yourself to others

- Be careful when talking about something until you have all the facts

- Do not pry into the private affairs of others

- Do not start what you cannot finish; keep your promises

- Do not speak badly of those who are not present

- Show interest during a conversation

- Don't allow yourself to become cynical

George Washington was obviously meant to be the father of the greatest country ever devised by man. As someone who placed paramount importance on how he treated others, he was quite worthy of establishing and leading a place where all people would be treated with respect. If only we could heed his call for true civility, there would be less divisiveness - even when we disagree on significant issues. It's too bad the city bearing his name (i.e. Washington, D.C.) has become a pejorative, because I have a feeling George Washington would not approve of what passes for political and social discourse these days.

2 comments:

  1. "It's too bad the city bearing his name (i.e. Washington, D.C.) has become a pejorative, because I have a feeling George Washington would not approve of what passes for political and social discourse these days."

    Be that as it may, the USS George Washington (America's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier) is not only our first president's namesake, she is plainly marked with his character (wisdom).

    CVN 73

    חכמה

    Surely Hashem, not man, matched that number to the name.

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  2. It's interesting you brought up that gematria, because I actually thought of titling this post "The Wisdom of George Washington." Thank you for providing an example of something that bears Washington's name and lives up to its calling.

    We are forever grateful to both George Washington the person, as well as all the brave men and women serving aboard the USS George Washington.

    Thank you for your service, and Godspeed.

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