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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will You Move Over?

There's a book I like to read from every now and again to gain insight about the traditions, and expectations of etiquette when our parents were going up.  The book I read is, "Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette" copyright 1952.  The chapters on courtship, even the word is outdated, are almost funny to read because they are so "old school", as they say these days.  Tonight when I came home I had a purpose in my reading.  I knew that there was a chapter that spoke about welcoming new citizens to our country and the problems they face.  I thought that Ms. Vanderbilt's words on this topic would seem antiquated as well, but what I found is that she and I share more in common than our first name. I am going to simply share with you some excerpts from this wonderful book.

"Millions of us are the children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren of those who took refuge here to escape political, social or economic upheavals in their own lands or who fled from religious persecution."  

"It is only natural for every man to regard the stranger, the possible economic encroacher, with a wary eye.  But we need to remember our own sources and realize that the vigor and progress of the country is stimulated by each such influx of new Americans, who bring with them talents, trades, ambition, and even wealth America can use."

"We should all remember that no matter how American we are now, our ancestors, even if they were English speaking, had their own problems of adjustment here too - physical, social, and economic.  Even well-bred English who settle here today feel our hostility or experience our ridicule of their manners and customs - as any English-born bride of an American can tell you.  So it isn't language that is the principal difficulty at all.  It is just the perversity of human nature.  We all hate to move over, as others had to move over for us."    

My ancestors had a time of finding a new life and acceptance in America.  I hope that as I am challenged to welcome newcomers that I can allow myself to remember that someone "moved over" for my ancestors so that they could walk with pride in this great Nation we call America.

Amy Lynn Michael

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