Sunday, August 23, 2009

Civility~A Forgotten Virtue

We are not on the planet alone!

I have been thinking a lot about civility for some time and have been wanting to share some thoughts here about it. As defined by Gordon B. Hinckley in his book, Standing For Something,"Civility carries with it the essence of courtesy, politeness, and consideration of others. All of the education and accomplishments in the world will not count for much unless they are accompanied by marks of gentility, of respect for others, of going the extra mile."


Sometimes I feel like I live in two different worlds. There is our circle of wonderful friends and family like you and our amazing church community, co-workers and neighbors for whom we have the highest regard. They are loving and caring and wonderful people~courteous, respectful and always willing to serve their fellowman. Then there is the world outside of that that is a whole different ball game.

How is the world treating you these days?
It seems that we are living among a society of people that is losing its civility; the common courtesy that would truly make life better. When out and about we constantly hear "Have Nice Day" but do we contribute to that "Nice Day" in a real way for each other? Or has it just become a phrase with no meaning whatsoever? I think I can answer my own question on that~to quote the Righteous Brothers...it seems we've lost that lovin' feeling. It is a nice gesture but so often they are just empty words.

I like to do a little social experimenting when I go out in public these days. As I do some people watching, I repeatedly see that we live in an angry, impatient, selfish era. I purposely smile, use my best manners, etc. and people are absolutely rude most of the time. I have noticed that if I say "excuse me," or "thank you," make eye contact or whatever...people look at me like I am an alien or they totally ignore the interaction.

To be fair this is of course, not everyone but I see it so often it is disturbing. People are constan
tly posturing and putting up their defenses. I hope it is not that way where you live. What is really disturbing when I do these little experiments is that after a child gets past the baby stage they are the same way. Next time you go shopping just try to get a four year old to smile back at you. One will smile while four will just scowl.

Letting someone in will not get you there that much later!

I also see it in families. I hate it when people yell at their kids and speak so demeaningly to them, anywhere, but especially when it is in public and adds to their humiliation as well as hurting their feelings. You see disrespect for people and their property just about everywhere. Has anyone keyed your car lately, cut you off in traffic, stolen something of yours, or been sarcastic? Do they text and talk loudly on their phones and play their car stereos for you constantly with absolutely no regard for what you might be doing?? Do they litter up your yard, "borrow" your newspaper, or use filthy language in your presence or blow smoke in your face? I see that here a lot. Annoying, isn't it? The flagrant disregard for others is so sad. It is a 'me first' type of world and the heck with anyone else. And when people feel anonymous they are even more rude.


Call me old-fashioned, but I like nice people. I also like to be nice. And I know that any changes need to start with each individual. So I am going to continue to be practicing civility in public and in private because if it helps one person have a better day...that is worth it...even if it is only me. I am a bit of a Pollyanna in this way, but I just want the whole world to be a nicer place. What is so hard about being nice...living by the Golden Rule?? That is just the way I want the world to be. I know I do not always get what I want, but I still keep trying to do my part. I am getting a little jaded about it though. But I will just continue being nice because I know it is the right thing to do.

I don't mean this to sound like a totally negative post and I know someday I will write one about the magnanimous and benevolent characteristics of total strangers. But for today, I would just like to see more kindness in the small things in life. A checker that says 'thank you' when you leave their check stand with the bags that keep them employed, someone that lets you in a long line of traffic, smiles for no good reason except to be kind, etc.


I often think about how kindness is a valued virtue in the south. I loved visiting there when Laura and Robert were in Mississippi. Kindness and gentility still exist somewhere. I observed people are more genuine and civil. I just like that. What does it hurt to just be nice?

Instead of just having a good day...we can make it a good day. It doesn't take that much effort to scatter a little sunshine all along your way! And if these people can't muster that up, I do wish they would at least be civil and decent! Life is tough enough as it is, we need to lift each other along the way. I am thankful for all of you that already do!


3 comments:

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Happy Sunday Bonnie,
Oh I hear you?? I see so much of the same, and when I do run across someone who goes out of their way, I make a real point to let them know how much I appreciate it.
We had a twenty something year old
fellow today with down's syndrome
I suspect bag our groceries at publix. He was very shy and just kept looking down and doing his job. I made a point of calling him by his name on his uniform,
think it was Allen, and asking him
how he was today. I watched him
as he took such gentle care of my
groceries as he bagged them, and very carefully placed them in our basket, taking a lil longer than usual, but I was impressed with the fact he was so careful and was concerned about not bruising my
veggies and fruits, so I made a point of telling him how much I
appreciated how careful he was
and how it was nice he took such
care cause he didn't bruise my
produce, I think it made his day,
as he said Thank you!
I am with you, I think we need to make a real point of being nice and
kind to others, especially starting at home first, and then
taking it to the streets. If we all did that what a wonderful world it would be!!
I am a bit pollyanna too!! So shoot us if you think we are overboard!! lol
We are just happy loving ladies
that want to spread that good Cheer
and Love wherever we go because it
spreads the aroma of Christ!!
Have a nice Day hon!! and I really
mean that!! lol
Love ya, Nellie
P.S. Thanks for coming by today,
glad you liked my good thought!!

Marie said...

Great post Bonnie! I think civility is indeed a lost art that needs to be dusted off and brought back to life! I try really hard to be a good person, kind, honest, caring, generous and giving, but it seems to be a dying art. The world has become so selfish and "me" oriented. It's really sad. I think alot of it goes back to the breakdown of the family and a general lack of moral standards. When I was growing up there were always kids that didn't get a lot of good things taught to them at home, but the schools always seemed to make up whatever slack there was at home, and kids were taught morals and standards there. Most people went to church, but we've become a very secular society, where it's almost a crime to admit you are a Christian and have values. Very sad, very sad, but it's all been prophesied in the scriptures so we should not be surprised.

laura.elizabeth said...

I hear you Mom! And to be honest it scares me- big time! But I do believe it is largely a matter of where you live, though. And I hate to say it but California is among the worst places I have experienced. Second only to New York and Chicago and followed closely by Utah. But there are still lots of great places to live. Where people are friendly and kind.

Europe in general tends to be very staunch- Naples in particular. I don't know. I think living in a foreign country has helped me realize that different cultures have different customs and that since America really is a giant melting pot (especially the bigger cities and their suburbs) sometimes things get lost in translation.

All I know is that when I get back to the states, I am going to be REALLY nice and OVERLY helpful to people who don't speak the language well. They are just like me (ironically I never saw them that way before) and need a smile and a helping hand just as much as anyone.

Okay, clearly this is a soap box issue for me too. Sorry- I will close.