“‘Good morning!’ said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat. ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?’ ‘All of them at once,’ said Bilbo.” (p.4)
This is an excerpt from one of my personal favorite books, The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien. This book is a true classic and could be talked about for the entire length of time it takes Bilbo to make it to the Lonely Mountain and back. The point of this passage is to illustrate the beginnings of the relationship between Bilbo and Gandalf and to display their various thought processes and such. I think it holds true to our conversations as well. Bilbo eventually gets huffy and uses “Good morning!” as a dismissal. We can use these sorts of greetings in all sorts of ways.
Greetings themselves, however, hold a lot of power in and of themselves. We use them as a way to acknowledge others and their impacts on us. One who has no impact on our lives certainly doesn’t earn an acknowledgement. One doesn’t cite literally every person they’ve ever met during an award ceremony, as an extreme example. When we greet someone, we acknowledge that they have contributed to our days. Just recently, I’ve had interactions in which that phrase becomes a whole conversation starter and I get to hear about people’s days. It’s truly a wonderful thing, and had I not been curious, I wouldn’t have asked. I think it’s a sign of love and respect in these cases, but even those we don’t know and we wave to on the street or give a polite greeting to as we pass by them holding a door, we give this greeting. It’s a quintessential part of being a person. We interact with people on a daily or near daily basis and if we can’t greet them, it all falls apart. I strongly recommend taking this and the previous two TPSW posts into consideration when you next talk to someone and see for yourself how you feel about it.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1966). The Hobbit (Vol. 1). George Allen and Unwin, Ltd.