"It's not a spectator sport!"

2. Customs of Courtesy

There was a custom in the old, aristocratic times, which is even now observed in the East and somewhat in the Western part of the world, of taking steps backward when leaving someone who was respected. It was not only a custom but it had a psychological point of view. When two people are talking to one another, facing each other, a current of sympathy is established which chiefly runs through the breath and through the glance, and necessarily, one of them is expressive, the other receptive. When their backs are turned that current is broken, and the idea of the people of old was to retain that current, which they thought was valuable, as long as possible.

There was another custom of courtesy of the ancients which still exists in certain places, that in order to show respect to someone they bent their knees. This had a psychological reason; that every influence of love, affection, or sympathy, benediction, or blessing, is poured through the glance, through the breath, and through words, and if the receiver was taller than the bestower, the influence would go into the ground instead of touching the person. Especially the influence of the glance, which surrounds one with sympathy and good wishes, has, mostly a downward direction, and it is naturally so with the breath also.

In the salutation made by putting one knee on the ground, the knee resting on the ground expresses readiness to receive the command and the knee that is up is ready to go forward to carry it out.

But besides their psychological influences, different manners of courtesy have been the outcome of human progress in the direction of refinement. And yet progress in every direction is like a wave in the sea-it rises and it falls. So it is with manners. This time seems to be the time when the wave is coming back. However, doing a thing is one thing, and understanding it is another thing. Whether one does a certain thing or does not do it, that is another question, but in the understanding of all things lies the purpose of life.