The Etiquette Foundation of Illinois was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2004 and received its 501 (c) (3) tax exemption in 2005. The original founders wanted to create a nonprofit organization, structured to address the growing incivility they were encountering on a daily basis. It became very obvious that what they were witnessing was indeed, a societal transformation in social attitudes and public conduct. They felt many factors were at work contributing to this social shift that included but not limited to parents no longer training their children in the social graces. They began to think about some of the contributing factors; a rapidly expanding population where people are working more hours (simply to make ends meet) than ever before; added stress, brought on by job insecurity, coupled with a (too often) dysfunctional family life. The impersonal world of cyber-space, and the social woe brought on by an ever-increasing need to meet unreasonable expectations and demands placed on our social and professional life—are factors influencing behavior. Of course, there are a host of other “rational” explanations. It was clear that society, its social rules and customs were in decline.
It was also clear that we were living at a very unique time in American life. The rules of civil discourse were once considered the very epitome of civilized behavior, are now being challenged. Contemporary cultural values are in conflict with social decency, as expressed in our public behavior and common social bonds with one another. Where should our priorities be? Obviously with the children! The founders were particularly concerned about the children who were enrolled in under-funded public schools or members of a social and or economically disadvantaged population. The next generation of adults is not being prepared to participate in an economy that is moving more and more towards service-based enterprises. Too many of our children do not appreciate nor understand their social and behavioral responsibilities to them selves and to the larger society. Children facing such dire circumstances have little or no opportunity to receive etiquette training (social education) and thus, would surely lack the social skills so important to their overall educational development and future social and employment opportunities.
The roots of incivility in the larger society, of course, are quite evident. Social discourse and the lack thereof, is having a degenerating impact at every level. We are witnessing an unparalleled shift in social behavior, influencing every public and private institution in society. We believe much has to be done and every citizen has a role to play in re-educating and re-directing our sense of self and the social values that are meant to remind us of our responsibilities to good citizenship and to one another.
If we are to revitalize one of Western civilization’s greatest cultural achievements, we must start by educating the most disadvantaged members of society. We believe a child’s education should encompass training in every discipline essential to his or her ability to be a fully functioning participant in their communities and in society.
Our goals are indeed lofty but we can either standby and simply be a witness or get involved in perhaps the greatest social challenge of our times. The future is really in the hands of every concerned citizen. We collectively can create our tomorrows. So, please join with us in this grand social venture for social change. Together, let us rediscover civility and put into practice, manners of behavior that speaks to your character and social decorum in public. Please take a moment to review our other Social Initiatives and Public Awareness Campaigns, listed under Program Initiatives. If you have any suggestions or questions, or want more information on how to get involved, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you.