A Lack Of Civility


There is a decided lack of civility in our culture these days that I find pretty disturbing.  

By bringing this up, I probably sound like one of those "get-off-my-lawn" dudes, but people are just not as polite as they used to be.  Too many of us are just one annoyance away from flying off the handle or worse.  

If you spend any time on the Internet, you will likely see some of the many videos of people absolutely losing their minds at restaurants, parking lots, road rage incidents, airlines, and the like. 

If you haven't, don't.  
If you have any left, it will chip away at your faith in humanity. 

I have been mindful of my actions and reactions when I'm out in the world doing things because I desperately don't want to contribute to the negative energy that is so prevalent around us. 

It comes down to being conscious of other people and curious about the situations you find yourself in.  
Your slow service at a restaurant may not be the server's fault.  They have too many tables because the place is understaffed. 

That bored, sullen cashier might just light up the room with a smile if you compliment them on something or ask how their day is going and mean it. 

The person who cut you off in traffic may not have seen you at all because, like you, they were probably paying attention to other things or not at all.  Let anyone who is without sin in that category feel free to cast the first stone, am I right? 

That hard conversation you are having with someone who you disagree with may be an opening for something deeper and real, a way to find common ground if you look past the bluster and frustration. 
When we think of other people as opponents, antagonists, or simply the object of our ire, we really do reduce them to objects, gloss over their humanity, and forget altogether that they are a child of God. 

And sometimes, our hard words or actions can have a lasting impact on others.  

George Bernard Shaw once wrote: 
It is easy, terribly easy, to shake a man’s faith in himself.  To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit, is devil’s work. 
Many of us have had our faith in ourselves shaken by people who have said or done things that have broken our spirits.  We know what it feels like to be filled with self-doubt because of ridicule, demeaning words or actions, and sometimes outright abuse. 

I find that one of the best ways to keep from turning into a person who lashes out in anger, intent on wounding someone who has injured me, is to remember that Jesus forgave the people jeering at him while he hung on the Cross. 

If those of us who say we want to be Jesus-followers would genuinely follow him, we need to bring that moment to mind whenever we are tempted to react with negativity to the frustrating things that people will do around us. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and always. Amen.  


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