Class is one of those words that has gotten kicked around and abused to the point that a whole lot of people have no idea what it means anymore……sort of like the word, literally, which most people under the age of thirty have no idea what it means. It was literally raining buckets, or cats and dogs. Wow…
Class, however, got abused and conflated with the concept of having an expensive (and European) car, or a house on an island, or in Hollywood or The Hamptons, or a yacht that’s longer than 100 feet. First thing to realize: Having money doesn’t guarantee class, not even a tiny bit. Look at the majority of Lotto winners, and then ask anyone who has money and they’ll agree that half their wealthy neighbors have no class whatsoever.
Having a degree from Harvard, Stanford, Yale or any of the Ivy-League schools also doesn’t guarantee class. In my own limited experience, I have yet to meet a Princeton grad who wasn’t a walking sphincter …Maybe I’ve just been unlucky.
Sooo…if you can’t buy it, and being smart doesn’t guarantee it, what the hell is it and number two question: Do I even need it? Yeah, you really do. And you know a person with class when you meet her or him…..particularly……when the chips are down and things are running on the rails.
Savoir Faire: Sadly, this is another term that isn’t used much lately. Through no fault of their own, many Millennials, and Gen X, Y, and Z ers have never even heard the term. Yeah, it’s French and interpreted literally, it means, To know what to do, or in some cases, to know how to do. And knowing the proper fork or spoon to use at an expensive restaurant is not what I’m talking about. Class and Savoir Faire are things which can save your life…literally. They are also at the very hub of the Golden Rule, which would take us all pretty far if we’d use the concept.
Put quite coarsely, America has recently slid back into name-calling and finger pointing at those who are different colors, religions, nationalities, sexes, or even regions. Think of a young inexperienced cop these days. First off, they’ve seen at least four or five hundred cop shows, with every possible way they can get sucker-punched, blown-up, or shot to death. As they exit their patrol car, they see a stereotype and the hairs raise on their necks and they are immediately at high alert.
On the flip side of that coin, that driver has seen…the same shows and is on high alert in just about the same degree. At this point, you have a scenario ripe for disaster, and there are things both sides can do to back away from disaster. This is where a serious knowledge of knowing exactly what to do…and what not to do will save you to live and love another day. Is this always just one side’s fault? Come on… Life isn’t that way. Not all cops are good and blacks are bad, and not all cops are bad and blacks are good.
Class goes beyond mere survival, however. Class is Grace under Pressure. Put another way, Class is doing the right thing, even when it’s inconvenient, even when it costs you something…time, money, or being out of your comfort zone. It has zero to do with money or education and everything to do with a compassionate upbringing.
There are a million ways you can show class, compassion, savoir faire, and (my favorite) empathy in the mere cultivation of one thought. With the person you’re confronting, either on the road or in the supermarket, the gas station, or in the next house over, take two extra seconds to imagine how the world is looking from their viewpoint right then. If your neighbor knocks on your door at 1:30 in the morning and asks you to turn down the stereo…is he the ass…or are you? When you are proving your manhood in your Vette or Hellcat or Camaro doing 15 miles over the speed limit and the “jerk” you come up on is doing 5 mph under, is he or she really out of line? Is it possible he or she might just be old and that’s all they can do? Is it possible that they just dropped their kid off at the hospital and they just aren’t up for road dueling? Do they really deserve to have you on their ass with the brights on??? ……Gee, I didn’t think of that…
Learning empathy, compassion, savoir faire, grace, learning how to put yourself in the mindset of the person next to you isn’t just class, it’s the right thing to do and will save your bacon 99 times out of 100. Those are good odds.
One last thing: Every one who knows you already has an idea of whether you have class, savoir faire, knows whether YOUR WORD carries any weight…or not. In the big picture, these seemingly abstract concepts are the only concepts which define you.
If you’re still curious, there’s a “TERRIFIC” article on the subject that I read somewhere by somebody. (Hold on a sec. Let me see if I can find it.) Here it is! It’s called EMPATHY, EMPATHS, THE E-FACTOR http://henryharveybooks.com/?s=empathy%2C+empaths
I liked your article a lot. Do you think empathy is something you learn or are you born with it?
That’s a really good question. To be accurate, I think it’s a mix. I think a person can be born into an environment that lends itself to that kind of thinking, but I think you can begin to ferret it out for yourself. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you get to it, as long as you get there.
Ike Bender I see Einstein feels it’s nurtured through your lifetime. I feel there are many ways to get there also but some people may be lacking the empathy gene.
I think that goes back to the very old nurture vs. nature argument. Einstein was a natural born genius at physics…not so sure how he stacked-up with regard to human nature. If you’re wondering and questioning and doubting the so-called answers written in stone…I think you’re in a good place.
I can empathize with someone who inadvertently uses “Stamford” when it was Stanford that was intended. 😉
Oh, thank God for empaths! I’m a lousy typist and “M” and “N” are sittin’ there, right next to each other.
Another word, largely unused these days and the opposite of class is, uncouth. I had this very conversation just yesterday at lunch with friends. The Power Of Empathy: Quote by Atticus Finch; “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.
“—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”
Copyright Harper Lee
I think that says it all.
Yup! I don’t know if the word has morphed lately. When I was growing up, uncouth used to focus mostly on gross stuff people did…or didn’t do with their bodies. Uhmmm…here’s an example. Any sentence with the word “boogers” in it is probably going to be uncouth. yuck.
Nice article Henry. I think this quote has something to do with empathy as well. It’s a nice reminder for me.
Excellent quote! Couldn’t cut and paste so I’ll copy it.
Not Everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know or believes the things you believe nor acts the way you would react. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.
Another read I really enjoyed.
Thanks for the Interlude.
And happy Fall to you and Wade!
Glad you enjoyed the article.
Great statements you put forth. I enjoy reading your writings. What a debate last night. Huh? Markets around the world rallied as Trump’s prospects dipped. Hurray. Peso up 2%! He showed his true colors as a bully. Interrupted Hillary 51 times.
Great to hear from you and thanks for your kind words!
There’s not much I can say (probably nothing) that hasn’t been said fifty times before about Donald Trump. To be honest, he boggles my mind only slightly. What is really hard and scary to believe is that he’s gotten so far. You don’t have to scratch around very far to see the parallels with Nazi Germany.
It’s as if they’ve given up on the really good concept of what used to be America. Now, they just want someone different…anyone, and who cares if they tell a lie every 195 seconds?
How is life treating you??? I hope you’ve kept the twinkle in the eye. It’s an easy thing to lose.
We’re a little bit closer now, if you’d ever like to get away, see some things called….mountains….streams… big waterfalls and little country roads. Pam and I would love to see you!
Keep in touch. Love to hear from you, my old dear friend.
Would you be so kind to add my wife’s email to your distribution of your blog/email. I usually remember to forward to her, but she’d appreciate not relying on my remembering every time. ;o)
How appropriate, “Class: Grace under Pressure” after last night. Some have it and some don’t.
Happy to add, my friend.
Confession time: It wasn’t really a typo. I just screwed-up. I’ve driven through Stamford so many times, I didn’t even think.
I love your messages, and am champing at the bit to reply with my comments, especially about class, and empathy..Have you ever heard the word “mensch”..That’ll possibly invade each one of the subject words…Love to you and Pam
Have I ever heard the word, Mensch?
Do ducks quack? Do dogs fart? Do old guys……well you get the idea.
Really nice to hear from you! Write in anytime and if you’re up in our area, this is a TERRIFIC place to visit!
Henry and Pam