Thursday, November 7, 2013

Humility and Civility, Where Art Thou?

I have been wondering what has happened to society. It seems everyone is upset with something or someone, it seems like there is drama and controversy surrounding all facets of our lives. It seems like we cannot get away from upheaval and disharmony; it has seeped into schools, churches, sports teams, and most obviously our government. Did you ever wonder what was causing all of this uneasiness?
I have had a lot of windshield time this past month and it has given me time to think about all of this. I admit that I am as prone to being caught up in negative, whining as anyone so what I have to say is aimed as much or more at me as it is anyone else. I truly believe that the root of most of our discord in society is due to two things. First is the “me first” and “I have to get mine” attitude that almost all of us have succumbed to.
Increasingly it seems to me that we are becoming a nation of no matter what I have to do or say, I am going to get what I think I am entitled to. The idea of I don’t care who I have to run over or run down to get my way and to have things the way I want them seems to be the norm. Majority rule seems to be a thing of the past. It will either be the way we want it or we will throw a monkey wrench into the process and bring it to a halt. Need an example just look at congress.
OK, congress was an easy target, let’s think about this in our daily lives. Too often we think we have been wronged by someone and the only thing that will make it better is for them to either give in to us and do it our way or pay with their job. We have all heard it, said it, or thought it. My kid didn’t get to play enough, the coach is to blame, they have to go. The sermon made me uncomfortable, the pastor is out to get me.  Or even, I ordered onion rings and not fries, I want to see a manager, someone is going to pay for this.
We fail to see the bigger picture. Maybe the coach is trying to make your child better. That sermon that made you uncomfortable, might just be something you needed to hear. Are fries instead of onion rings really that big of a deal? Your server may have other things on their mind, they might have just made a mistake. Either way I would guess you have been guilty of making mistakes at work too. Show some compassion for those around you, put yourself in their shoes and realize that in some cases the thing you want has to go by the wayside for the greater good of those around you.
This brings me to my second thought about society. Where has the civility gone? Why have we become so confrontational. Not only does it have to be my way, I have to tell you about it in an abrasive, in-your -face manner. Often our first course of action is to pound our fist and loudly state our point of view. We want everyone to know we have been wronged.
Let’s go back to our fries instead of onion rings example. How many times have we been in that restaurant and heard the obnoxious customer (because we would never be that person)? What has become of kindly asking your server about the mistake, with a soft voice and an understanding smile.  My guess is that, in most cases, the problem would be solved and lessons would be learned and our lives as well as the lives of those around us would be more pleasant. Of course this is a pretty simple example, but I am sure it applies in many more complex scenarios also (see congress).
While I have done much thinking on these matters, I have yet to come up with much of a solution. Should manners and civility be taught in school? Probably, but I am sure some parent would have to go to the school board to complain. Should it be talked about from the pulpit? Most definitely, but there again the pastor would probably ruffle some feathers and we can’t have that, after all, Jesus didn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers.
Actually, the only solution I came up with is a simple one and it starts at a more personal level with that mixed up order at the fast food restaurant. I often tell my children that the only person you control is yourself. You have a choice each day of how you will treat the people around you. Maybe if we all made more of an effort to put others first and conduct ourselves with civility it would spread through society. It’s worth a try.

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