Mike Kueber's Blog

November 15, 2014

Servants, etc.

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 9:25 pm
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I recently blogged about American exceptionalism and noted that egalitarianism is one of its key components. Egalitarianism, according to Wikipedia, is a doctrine “that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status.”

Because of my recent bingeing on Jane Austen and the landed gentry in early 18th-century England, I have been exposed to dramatic examples on non-egalitarian life. By contrast, I was born & bred on a farm in North Dakota, a state that is probably more egalitarian than most.

That statement about North Dakota obviously depends on your definition of “equal fundamental worth or social status.” As a practical example of egalitarianism in North Dakota, I had to move to Texas to learn the honorifics “sir” and “Mr.,” and this informality made it difficult for me to deal with judges who insisted on being called “Your Honor.” Or when I was in Army ROTC, saluting to upper classmen.  Who do they think they are, better than me?

I suggest that an egalitarian people don’t have other people as servants; they don’t pay other people to pamper them; they don’t continually crave VIP status/recognition; they don’t enjoy unctuous waiters who fawn over them.

Of course, not everyone chooses to be egalitarian. But that would be un-American.

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2 Comments »

  1. Liked your blog! Thanks for making me aware of it.
    I went from Medicine Lodge, Kansas to Hyderabad, India as a young girl. You can imagine the differences in social systems, castes and class.
    I believe in egalatarianism. It is a fundamental belief and has made our country great.
    What I don’t believe in is a lack of class. (Which is really a whole other subject.) I believe people should have class. And although I get along with people who lack class…. I wish they would get it.
    Respect for others, courtesy, proper language and an adherence to your word are signs of class. This is the social class I was thinking of in my pithy posting on Facebook.

    Comment by Lora DeWolfe — November 16, 2014 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

    • As I suspected, you and I agree. The informality that I learned in North Dakota was a mixture of egalitarianism and improper manners. There is something good about calling old folks “mister” or “sir.” But I wish kids would wait until I get old before using those terms on me. 🙂

      Comment by Mike Kueber — November 16, 2014 @ 9:54 pm | Reply


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