I’ve just come across George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are not really his – he took them from a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595, which were then translated into English the following century.
I wouldn’t follow them all, but there are some beautiful admonitions, and some lovely Capitalisation:
1. Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
22. Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
49. Use no Reproachful Language against any one; neither Curse nor Revile.
50. Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.
65. Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest; Scoff at none although they give Occasion.
79. Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof…
89. Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
Reminds me of one of my favourite scripture quotations:
Do not use harmful words in talking. Use only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free. Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults. No more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tenderhearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Eph 4:29-32)