The natural approach to human relations presumes that to know any person well enough is to love him, and that, therefore, the only human problem is a communication problem. It refuses to admit the possibility that people might be separated by basic, deeply held, genuinely irreconcilable differences — philosophical, political, or religious. Thus, the effort to trivialize etiquette as being a barrier to the happy mingling of souls, actually trivializes intellectual, emotional, and spiritual convictions by characterizing any difference between one person’s and another’s as no more than a simple misunderstanding, easily solved by frank exchanges or orchestrated “encounters.”

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
Common Courtesy, “In the Quest for Equality, Civilization Itself Is Maligned” (1985)

Originally published in The New Republic in 1984.