In this age of bluntness, coarseness, and naked rudeness, there is a virtue that I think is sorely missing from our daily lives. That is the public practice of grace.
I’m not thinking of the state of blessing that religious people believe comes through divine assistance from their god(s). Although this is a worthy concept, it is not one that we humans have available for use.
The grace that comes to mind is more akin to the attractive quality of propriety or being thoughtful and considerate. Something like grace can be noticed in the behavior of polite people. What I would like to see is that type of thinking and behavior encouraged into society at large, but not imposed.
In my fantasies this prerogative of grace would be modeled by our chief executive in his or her generous attitude of mercy, courtesy, clemency, and understated behavior. It’s the dignified bearing as practiced by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as she handles the diplomatic affairs of state with grace and fairness.
Grace is not an archaic, “Victorian”, protocol imposed on us by official fiat. Grace is more of a social environment that could be encouraged by celebrities, politicians, and leaders in the national limelight. It would be seen as an attractive, desirable quality that we could emulate. This national attitude would also include the social graces that are necessary for behaving well in our social situations.
Grace is a virtue that encompasses more than just good manners and charm school etiquette. It is a personal disposition of courtesy, clemency, kindness, and warmth of heart. This is not the same thing as simple leniency, but a degree of leniency is an ingredient in grace.
The national environment of grace would imply a willingness to grant concessions from a benign attitude that is not naïve. Favors would be shared in a more equitable way than they are today. Responsibilities would be assigned according to the ability to perform them.
The kind of grace that comes to mind is one that actively displays goodwill and benevolence in the sort of understanding and acceptance of others that goes beyond mere tolerance. I think of the grace that wise community leaders show the public during and after a crisis or natural disaster. There would be a measure of charity for the afflicted and less fortunate.
When grace is a nation’s mindset, we find a benevolent, pleasant, attractive, joyful country. Its inhabitants live in an expansive, compassionate, free place that is all inclusive.