President Trump is currently on a state visit to the U.K., and the media (both social and establishment) is salivating all over themselves, waiting for him to make a serious etiquette error that will embarrass the United States.
If you were fortunate enough to have a grandmother like mine, here’s what she would tell you:
Your Grandmother Would Tell You To Be Patriotic
My grandmother didn’t wave the flag, but she lived through two world wars and had an appreciation of what people had fought for. Among many other things, she knew they risked their lives to protect everyone’s right to voice their opinion. She took it for granted that some of those people would disagree with you, but she also assumed they would do so in a civil manner (good thing she isn’t alive today).
She would probably have subscribed to the theory that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” It would have made perfect sense to her that complaining about national leaders was okay when they were in Akron, but not in Athens.
Your Grandmother Would Tell You To Respect Elected Officials
She felt that the people we elect to public office are the standard bearers of our democracy, and as such are entitled to some respect—not for who they are as people, but for what they represent.
While she wasn’t an immigrant herself, she came from an immigrant family. Her ancestors had impressed upon her the dangers of living in a society where differences of opinion weren’t tolerated.
Your Grandmother Would Tell You To Behave Well, Even When It Wasn’t Convenient
When is it not convenient? Basically, any time you’re not surrounded by friends and/or family, since both groups have learned to be tolerant of your quirks.
My grandmother certainly didn’t subscribe to the theory that “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” However, she would definitely draw a distinction between remarks made in the privacy of your own home and those spoken in public.
She believed in the quaint, old-fashioned notion that there should be an element of graciousness to public discourse, because it’s part of the glue that holds society together.
Your Grandmother Would Remind You To Be a Lady Or a Gentleman
She would have been extremely proud of Prince Harry this week. It’s no secret that the prince and Barack Obama were buddies, and you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that Harry probably isn’t a fan of Donald Trump.
On top of that, he’s fiercely protective of his wife—a woman who views the president as divisive and misogynisitic, and who vowed to move to Canada if he were elected (as it turns out, she got a better offer). Even worse, Trump characterized Meghan as “nasty” on the eve of his U.K. trip.
So what did Harry do about the luncheon at Buckingham Palace with the president? He showed up and acted like a gentleman, even though it required avoiding Trump for most of the afternoon.
Your Grandmother Would Tell You That Everyone Gets What They Deserve
My own grandmother would absolutely tell you this. When doing so, she wasn’t talking about karma: she was referring to the lightning bolts that come out of nowhere and strike you down in this life for behaving badly. Over time, I have come to understand that she was right.
I’ve also realized that decisions about this level of retribution are made way above my pay grade. Much as we desperately want to see the playing field leveled at times, only God can do it.
You may hate Donald Trump and everything you perceive he stands for; you may feel that way about his predecessor or successor. Unless you’re God, though, it behooves you to be nicer. Your grandmother is counting on it.