Keeping On
What I Read on Vacation

The Old Botswana Morality

The wonderful thing about Alexander McCall Smith's series, "#1 Ladies' Detective Agency," is that its stories are told with such nonsentimental grace and charm. The protagnist, Precious Ramotswe, worries about the loss of the "old Botswana morality," and hearing that, we too are reminded that we worry about a society in which civility and manners have been discarded. And yet, just like in her Botswana, all is not lost: there are still those who behave civilly, who have manners,who have been taught well and behave well. These are the outward marks of an inward moral center, and even if they are only skin deep, they still have a laudatory effect on a society.

I think the books resonate with readers because deep down we all long for a world full of people like Precious Ramotswe, people who can be trusted, with integrity, who really manifest a virtuous life. There are still people like this around us.

To the day he died, my wife's father stood whenever women or older people entered the room. He remained standing until they sat down. He did it as a matter of repect for them. So do his sons. Having watched them, so do I. Why? I don't know what he would have said. It was second nature to him. But I would say because they are to be honored because they are made in God's image and because women and the elderly are honored in Scripture. It's not common anymore. But the practice still survives.

Obed Ramotswe would be pleased.