Saturday, May 15, 2010

Civility~The 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!

8 comments:

Sister Susie said...

Wonderful post, Bonnie.

I can identify with you completely. I don't know at the times I have joyfully spoken to parents in passing and the snears or head turns are like a slap in the face. I have even spoken to older children in passing, getting the same results (they know I'm a teacher.) Quite some years ago, I was in a workshop that shared about children's personalities, attitudes, and dispositions being SET by the age of three!

Yelling? Sad to say with each passing year, I have heard more children yelling at their parents in anger. I had a kindergartner calling out to his mom as she approached, that he wanted to go to Burger King. She said no, to which he reared back and head banged her so hard in the stomach, it knocked the breath out of her. She walked off gasping for air as he kicked at her heals all the way across the parking lot! Another kindergartner's mom approached to pick up her child when He hollered at her to take him to Wal-Mart. As she bent over to give him a kiss, she said no to which he responded by slapping her across the face sending her sunglasses flying down the sidewalk. I can't imagine what these kids are going to be like in ten years!

The blatant disreguard for others is being fueled by the "rights" of these people (who have rap sheets a mile long) and the law supports that which is in the wrong rather than that which is in the right! That sounds much like a verse in the Bible that talks about "the lie being believed rather than the truth."

I will continue my joyful greetings to those who refuse to reply and I will compliment with truth at the return of snears. For, God's Word in Romans 12:17-20 says that by doing this, "coals of fire are being heaped upon their heads." It also causes me pray for them to see that they are in such misery. They may not truly even be hearing me or may be in such remorse because they wonder why I'm so joyful. I can't understand how anyone can live without knowing our Awesome God. Maybe this is why they are so ugly in attitude, jealous of others prosperity, and hateful to the point of destruction of others belongings.

Again, these are earthly things. One day we will change the "old" for the "new" and will no longer be subject to the audacious behaviors of those who choose to do so. The shocking truth is when they face their everlasting "new."
While in anguish of an everlasting punishment from a Just and Holy God, even more horrible for them will be the vast chasm they will scan across and see what they could have had in the Eternal Heaven.

It makes me totally humble to my Awesome Holy, Almighty, Creator, Savior God that He has allowed me to be one to enter His Eternal Joy, Glory, and Everlasting Love that will never fade, become corrupt, or die.

May I be a witness to others to come to Him and experience a Joy that only His Children can know!

Blessings to you and yours,
Susie

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Amen Bonnie,
I see it too, and indeed it is sad.
I truly believe sometimes it is because so many are going at such a frantic pace and feel such pressure,
sometimes I think they are so focused on accomplishing tasks that they forget all about people, it is all about accomplishing!! Sometimes I do believe it is purposeful or just lack of good teaching, but sometimes I believe it is just not thinking about others at all. I am amazed by it too, cause I feel the same way you do. I try to go out of my way to speak with cashiers and to be nice to people that serve me. I have been amazed sometimes by how people treat servers in restaurants. My grandparents and dad owned a restaurant, so maybe I am more sensitive to it because of how I have seen people treat the waitresses there, but it is appalling how people act like they are dirt beneath their feet sometimes and are so demanding about what they want, and don't even ask politely or say Thank you.
It is truly sad, I so agree,
but we that do feel it is an important thing should keep at it and go even further out of our way to do it every chance we get, cause who knows maybe someone will see it and think that was nice, I should try that!! Wouldn't that be
wonderful!!
Hope you have a great weekend my friend,
Love ya, Nellie

Shaun at Oak Den said...

I live in a town where we still wave at people when we drive by in our cars. Once in awhile there is someone having a bad day at a store, but for the most part people here are A-OK. It is another story in The City. It is a hard world we live in, to be sure.

Shaun at Oak Den said...

I live in a town where we still wave at people when we drive by in our cars. Once in awhile there is someone having a bad day at a store, but for the most part people here are A-OK. It is another story in The City. It is a hard world we live in, to be sure.

LA Adams said...

You're right Bonnie. I think Primary was began to teach children manners and civility. Do we still do this?

Julie Harward said...

Most likely you are right about all this...I don't get out of my small world long enough to notice mean people...I just try to assume that they didn't really mean to be mean! LOL :D

Marie said...

Another great post Bonnie. I try to say hello to everyone I meet, even if I don't know them. That one that smiles back and says hello back, makes it all worth while! I can't help the way other people are, but I can help the way I am!

Caroline Craven said...

Wow, this whole civility begins at home. I was somewhat shocked (not as much as I should be) by Susie's comments about kindergarten behavior. That is something you stop dead in its tracks. My kids have never behaved that way publicly b/c they knew there would be serious consequences at home, if not sooner. How are those moms ever going to teach those children self-respect if the parents don't respect themselves enough to stop that kind of abuse? Sadly, I see it in Primary too - children not listening, talking all the time, or just plain disrupting in whatever way gets them the most attention. It feels to me like the inmates are running the asylum most of the time. Are parents afraid they won't be their kids best friends if they give them boundaries? News flash - for a few years they won't be their best friends - period. I could go on and on. This is a serious issue in our society. More parents need to get a back bone and be, well, the parents!