Tag Archives: politeness

The Benefits of Courtesy

kindness, courtesy, politeness, good feelings

Creative Commons: Nicole Ellis, Sunshine's Reflections http://sunshinereflections.wordpress.com

It’s amazing how self-centered we’ve become, worrying about our finances, getting the kids here or there, keeping our jobs, getting a better job, finding time for fun, rushing to or from the supermarket, the game, the meeting, the mall, the party. It goes on so that we’re caught up in a whirlwind of activity and sometimes barely notice the world around us.

That world isn’t all strife, war and trauma as the news likes to focus upon but also full of beauty, ingenuity and intelligence. We get so caught up at times that we forget that there are thinking and caring humans all around us. Their lives are as important as your or mine. And some days, we just have bad days.

So would it hurt any of us to try to be a bit nicer, to try some courtesy? I have found that often this can go farther than being grouchy and boy, do I have my cranky pants days. I’ve taken to telling random strangers that I like their hair, or dress or shoes if I do. It doesn’t hurt me to say it and makes their day a bit shiny. I know when some stranger has paid me a compliment that it gives me a bit of a glow.

I try to think about others when I’m shopping so I don’t stop with my cart in the middle of the aisle but pull it over so it’s out of the way. I don’t stand in front of the mushrooms blocking it for all others to reaching in but try to stand a bit to one side so that others can share. I say thank you when someone holds a door open for me and likewise hold doors for others. I wave when someone lets me change lanes while driving and try to let people in. It’s especially hard while driving to stay in a good mood because people feel they’re losing a race if they let anyone in. But there is someone always ahead of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I have pretty big crankypants and get really irate when I think people aren’t being fair. But I try to reciprocate kindness with kindness. Sometimes I’ve been in line with groceries with two items and someone will let me in, in front of them. Suddenly we’ll chat a bit and become human to each other, not just another stranger whose in our way. It makes that waiting in line pass faster and you get to know something about another person.

Just imagine how pleasant we could all be if we did a small kindness for someone else, said something nice? Giving a gift of courtesy could be the biggest reward and put some sunshine in everyone’s day. Here’s hoping we can all just be nicer to each other and find the world transformed without us trying to transform others or ignore them.

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Reflections on Water

I found some scribbled notes in my purse and recall writing it one night while sitting in the bar. Here’s how my mind thinks at times.

Creative Commons: by Lorna is flickr

Glasses lined like hardened ethereal soldiers, the larger toward the middle protected by champagne and port glasses. Then the sturdier ranks of snifters and martinis, a veritable chessboard of glass.

We waste water so much, where there is purified ice and water in a martini glass to cool it, that ice is tossed down the drain, steaming water, heated with detergent to clean glasses. Pouring in a stream from a running tap, straight down the drain.

In the Middle Ages people died from uncleanliness, cholera, e coli, from not washing and from inadequate sanitation.

We are coming full circle, needing to be reminded to wash our hands, which was common place fifty years ago and little about super bacteria killing people in hospitals because it just wasn’t spread. There was more politeness, more structure, more manicured and precise clothing and styles but more secrets were hidden.

The shadow side was under control, but perhaps too dampened down. Now it is in full flight. It is the light and the brighter side that is becoming hidden, being tamped down. Our shadows are winning and we are still out of control: too politically correct, too balanced to the point of sterilization.

Creative Commons: D Sharon Pruitt

We make heroes of the bad guys, wearing gangster clothing and black clothes because it’s cool or hot or the new white. We cherish the gun-toting, car chases and children emulate the drug lords. We are spinning into the vortex of darkness, embracing it with heady exuberance and forgetting the balance is still needed, that we need light and dark, and should let these out in controlled ways not in darkness masking itself as the light. Evangelical crusades, religious tirades, justice by sacrificing rights. We must be careful.

And water…more precious than gold, more pricey than oil for we cannot drink these other commodities. Look at Haiti, look at Japan. Water polluted by fecal matter, by radiation, by the dead. And here we are in North America, letting the liquid more precious than all just run down our drains, grace our cups as luxuries that we don’t necessarily appreciate. I love water but I could be much more frugal about it and hope I will consider not wasting it.

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Social Media Has Killed Sociability

Creative Commons: by Matt Hamm

A little over one hundred and fifty years ago if you wanted to invite someone over you went to their door, or ran into them at the market. If you were upper class, you sent the servant over with a note saying “Your presence is requested at Miss Abernathy’s for tea tomorrow afternoon.” You might have sent a homing pigeon.

About a hundred years ago, you could get on the party line, or write a letter to invite someone, or use any of the aforementioned tools. This evolved into individual phone lines for everyone and became the preferred way to communicate with people, or to mail an invitation if you didn’t see them in person. About twenty-five to thirty years ago the internet came along. While it made instant chatting available to those people far and wide; relatives, lost loves, old friends, it didn’t work so well for close to home.

You’re probably thinking I’m nuts, but as the internet evolved our social skills devolved. Sure we could talk to someone in outer Timbuktu and more often, but when it came to the friend across the street or in easy access of the phone, we started to resort to email. I’ve always said email is a cross between a phone call and a letter. You can write out more but you don’t get as much interaction with the other person and it can take far longer to explain or describe something by writing than by having a conversation (remember those?). Case in point; I’ve tried with friends to set a date to get together. I email and say, when are you free. In the next week I can do any date but Wednesday. Two weeks later they get back to me and say okay we’ve got this weekend coming up. I get back to them and say I can’t do this weekend. What about this one? They get back to me and say can’t do that. Another flurry of emails, some long delays and six months have passed without getting together. The second time this began I picked up the phone and called them. Matter solved in a few minutes and a date set.

After the internet, we got Facebook and all its ancestors before that. As well we got text messaging. So what’s the best way to interact? Inane daily events are often recorded on Facebook but it’s not real conversation. And while Facebook is great for letting people know of plays, concerts, dances and other large social gatherings it’s not so great for parties and intimate gatherings. I lose the invitations from friends amongst the invitations to every event in the city. And people don’t respond so it might look like three people are coming to your party when thirty-three actually come. People have foregone the courtesy of yesteryear of responding to an invitation.

How bad is this? Recently I wanted to go see a show where one extra night was added, the rest having sold out. I knew the tickets were selling fast and I thought some of my friends would like it so I emailed eight people and said let me know ASAP because these won’t last. The next day, no response from anyone. I was very puzzled and sent the email again with several test messages to people because I thought my email wasn’t working. But not one person bothered to say yes or no, and because I waited I lost out on getting a ticket myself.

What was I to think:

  1. I’ve pissed off 8 people from different walks of my life all a once.
  2. No one likes me or respects me enough to bother responding.
  3. The internet wasn’t working. (I’m beginning to suspect the internet was OTL last week.)
  4. I happened to luck into 8 diverse people who were sick, working late, had a broken computer, didn’t check their email, didn’t see the email, didn’t care, all at once.
  5. Aliens ate my friends.
  6. Friends A, B, & C prefer to be called. Friends D & E prefer text messages. Friends F & H prefer Facebook and Friend G was jumping off a bridge.
  7. Other.

So, what is the solution if email isn’t the best way to contact 8 people? I know I don’t get on Facebook every day and I’ve had the same response there. I don’t have unlimited texting and not everyone has texting.  What happens if I have a party and want to invite 50 people? I can’t text or call them all. Do I go back to sending old fashioned paper invitations where no one will call because we don’t use our phones for calling much anymore and if a person has to go from paper to email or text they’re likely to forget? Do I send my servant to their door? Wait, what servant? Do I post on Facebook knowing five people will respond and 20 people will look and go oh no one’s going so I won’t?

What’s the answer? Social media really has wrecked personal parties. It’s okay if you want to go to a club but don’t count on your buddies going.  But I think we’ve lost a fundamental aspect of courtesy that is not better in many ways. I think the polite think to do is still to respond when it’s an invitation, when it says RSVP. But I’ve decided to not bother with the party I was going to throw in the next month because chances are, no one will respond. Perhaps the telepathic implants will work better once we get them.

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It’s an All About Me World

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be living at the height of the 40s when people doffed their hats, everyone said please and thank you and called people by their last names, and politeness was just a way of life. Over the decades things have changed. Morals and moires have loosened up, there is more freedom in speech and thought and dress and we live in a very affluent society in North America.

With that, has come consumption at a phenomenal rate. Products are over-packaged, packaged and packaged again to make them splashier, bigger, brighter and harder to rip off. Fashions for everything from clothing, to cars to home furnishings are advertised everywhere, on billboards, in magazines, on TV. Even the poor have TVs and cell phones and wearing the latest cool rock or movie star inspired trend is what matters.

We toss out usable TVs, computers, clothing, furniture because we’re tired of them, they don’t fit the new decor, whatever. Once upon a time in a world only a hundred years old people kept and used items until they were used up. Except perhaps for the rich. But now we have a much richer society compared to a lot of the world’s population.

And what does it seem to have made us? Selfish, self-centered, rude, righteous and arrogant. How often do we drive, turning every other driver into a nonentity or someone to race past, curse out or otherwise denigrate to prove we’re superior, faster, more entitled to use that HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane to switch in and out of traffic than all those people who follow the rules? How often do we shop in a store or walk down the sidewalk, not considering that other people are using it too and trying to get past but making everyone move at our pace?

Do you bump into someone and don’t even bother to say, “Sorry,” presuming that they just expect it to happen? Do you throw your litter on the ground because you don’t care, it doesn’t matter, everyone does it, or any other way that you justify it being fine for you to do what you want? Do you push in front of someone in line, whether on the road, or at an event? Do you stand in the middle of a walkway, chatting with your friends and blocking the way for everyone? Do you say thank you if someone serves you, lets you in, holds a door for you (no matter the gender)?

We’ve become such a selfish me-me-me society that it really saddens me. I too fall into this at times, because I’m in a rush, I’m grumpy, I was cut off by that jerk. I’m not perfect but I try to consider others around me and not make it that the world was designed only for me and serves me first.

It takes effort to be polite, courteous, kind, but it can really make one feel a lot better if someone says thanks. I once needed change for parking, four quarters for a dollar. I tried to ask a man walking by and he veered around me like I was a leper. We’re turned into a very uncaring and callous society. If we all just try a bit harder we can make our rich, affluent world a pleasant one. Try just being considerate to one person more than you’re considerate to today. Consider a stranger and how your actions may affect them. Think about the world around you and try and imprint it with kindness. The 40s seem quaint now but they had their value.

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