Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Civility Week 31, July 30, 2012 - If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Try Harder!"

“It is not difficult today to find people who share a concern about the lack of civility in our society in general, and our public discourse in particular. What is difficult is to find people who believe they can do anything about the degree of civility in our political processes beyond remaining civil themselves.”
 Cassnadra Dahnke, Tomas Spath, Donna Bowling
Institute For Civility In Government

   I dread election years. In fact I hate election years because I feel like we should outlaw any forms of dirt slinging, mud racking or down right nasty talk about each other. So many of those people running for office must feel that it’s the only way to get elected, by bashing the other guy because 95% of the campaigns use these tactics.

   In the hunt for civility this year, I have found time after time that using civility has always improved  situations where there is the possibility for tempers to flare. So how do we improve the political arena when the mud slinging begins?

   First, don’t get involved in it yourself, don’t spread rumors, don’t speculate on whether what one opponent says about another is true or not. Stop beginning your conversations with other people, “Did you hear about so-and-so and his connections to the mob?”

   Try to find out positive things the candidates have done in their careers. Unless they are really wretched people, there had to be something positive they did to get into office, or think they should be running for office at least.  Even people who totally believe in opposite agendas than we do have a reason, some kind of reason. Maybe they haven’t heard enough positive reasons for the opposing side to understand your reasons for not supporting what they believe in.

   I realize this goes against the grain of some people’s way of thinking; it’s hard to fight “kindly” when someone is bashing your values or beliefs. But I have never read a bible verse that said Jesus lashed out at nonbelievers, sinners or His followers. He always, ALWAYS led by example, doing good, being civil, being kind, helping those who were ill or poor. He never, ever even told the Pharisees to go to hell because they didn’t support him.

   The opposite of this approach, of course, is to bury your head in the sand, to not say anything at all and let nature takes its course in the political arena. This is wrong too! Just because you believe in something different does not mean you shut up just so you don’t cause a fight.  Jesus also threw the money changers out of the temple, so we have a right to speak up for our values and beliefs. But truly, remembering things like, “They will know we are Christians by our love!”  and “You get more flies with honey than vinegar” can go a heck of a long way further in changing someone’s mind about abortion, marriage being between a man and woman, than burning effigies on their lawn, or treating then as outcasts.

   I realize too that, since Jesus was without sin, that gives Him a much bigger advantage over me being able to stay calm in these situations. But then, we don’t have to BE perfect as much as work TOWARD being perfect. It’s all in our approach.

   Many of us don’t feel comfortable speaking up,  maybe we didn’t take enough classes where we had to use decorum and civility or maybe we were always told “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  That should not be true, we still need to speak up, but say it nicely.  So the new adage should be, “If you can’t say anything nice, keep trying!”

   We simply cannot give up on civility, not while we live with other people, or have a society that is controlled by human beings. And if our society is not controlled by humans that would be a scary thought – we don’t want computers or governments controlling us. 

   So speak up, civilly! Speak  your mind, but do it in a nice way! Using your Jesus influence, do good works and show them the beauty of children, of true marriages, how a Jesus people live!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Civility Week 30, July 23, 2012

   Oh ho! Made it back just in time for my 30th week entry for Civility! My fam and I were out west visiting our married daughter. It was the first time in 26 years I’ve flown in a commercial airplane, rented a car, drove in a huge city and especially the first time for having one of my kids be so far away!    Lessons in civility this week included:

   Being patient in traffic: it took us two hours to drive 30 miles through winding slow residential areas no less because there was a small town car rally going on and our route took us directly through the downtown district of that car rally!
   Being patient in big city traffic where stop lights only allow two cars per cycle!
   Standing in line for a look at tourist attractions including shops where the chocolate they sell is worth standing in line for!
   Walking through crowd after crowd downtown, down the street, because that’s what a tourist does!

   Airports: need I say more?
   Airport security: nothing can be said, although honestly despite all the bad things I’ve heard in the media about airport security, if you follow the rules it’s pretty much an easy deal, even when you get pulled over because your camera battery sets off the x-ray machine!!! Yep, my bad!

   All in all, it was a good week and we had an awesome  time!  When you go with patience and understanding that it’s just going to be a place with lots of people and cars, it’s so much easier to keep your civility! 

   Whoa, could I actually be learning some civility? Well, it’s not time to celebrate yet…we still have 22 weeks to go!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Civility Week 29, July 16, 2012

Fezzik:  “I fight gangs for local charities and stuff.”  The movie:   “Princess Bride”

I can’t tell you how many times my hubs and family have laughed at this line in the movie, “The Princess Bride” not because it was so funny, but because one time we were discussing quotes from the movie, my family is a big movie quoting family, and I came up with this line and stumped them all!

I stumped them because I always thought Fezzik was saying he fought gangs of local cherry thieves. Cherry thieves? Yes, yes, to my ears it sounded like he said cherry thieves, not charities. Now honestly, didn’t cherry thieves make sense? Here was this huge hulk of a guy in town,  lots of orchards have trouble with people making off with their produce, hence, cherry thieves. Why wouldn’t they hire Fezzik to watch out for those fruit pie filling nabbers?

At any rate, don’t you hate when you find out you are wrong about something and someone calls you on the carpet or corrects you in a not so nice way in front of lots of people?

Me too. 

My civility work is short and sweet this week! Be careful how you correct someone when they make an honest mistake! We are our brother’s keepers and all, but as the sayings go, “you catch more flies with honey.” Or “the more arguments you win, the less friends you will have.

One more word of wisdom, “Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe!”


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Civility Week 28 - July 9, 2012 - Messing It Up Again...sigh

   Welcome back my friends , to week 28 of working on our Civility! Isn’t it funny how some days you encounter peace and tranquility and wonder why how we could think being civil is so hard? Then there are days like this one…

   We are all working on things in our lives, enduring hardships, job loss, family members being sick or dying, our children growing up and moving all over the place, choices they make about friends, places to live.  Some days we are doing good to just keep smiling! So when you couple that with everyone you meet that day may be going through the same hardships, trials, joys and sorrows, I think we may be lucky we don’t all go off on each other!
   So when events conspired yesterday to do just that, I had to stop and examine what civility is all about and realize I still don’t have a good handle on my own civility, but I have to keep trying!
   I began the day okay, getting to work, training three altar servers at Mass, praying for my mom and my brother who were traveling out of town to the funeral of one of my cousins,  answering a multitude of phone calls that morning coming into the office, so when I left for lunch I was starving and looking forward to that little bit of down time with my hubs and something to eat.

   I got into my car and turned the key. Nothing…hmm…weird, I have had my car for 10 years and can count on one hand the number of times I could not drive it because of mechanical problems. Try again…nothing…dead battery. Okay, call the hubs cause I know he’s home and ask him to bring the jumper cables.
   I stand outside my car waving at all the parents picking them kids up from Vacation Bible school at noon, until help comes.  Wonderful hubs jumps the car battery and we toodle home where, when I try to start it again it still is dead.
   While we eat lunch he tries to charging up the battery.  Still nothing, so we must need a new battery. This one was only guaranteed for 5 years and guess what? It’s been exactly five years.  So forget the rest of lunch it’s off to the auto parts store.
   The guy at the store tries to test the battery…can’t get his tester to work…goes to the “big tester” but there’s another battery on it. Tells us, it may be 30 minutes to an hour before he can test our battery…do we want to wait? No, I have to get to work. So hubs gives him our phone number and takes me back to work.
   I got busy, answering phones, searching for lost church banners in the hot basement of church, get back to my office and realize two and half hours have gone by and no word from hubs on the battery. Call him. He is not happy…he had to call the parts store because they never called in the 30 – 60 minutes they promised. They said it was done but needed to talk to us. Forboding feeling…hmmm… hubs picks me up.  We walk into the parts store, the guy who worked with us earlier is nowhere in sight, a new guy assists. We find out our battery is still on the tester with a note that says it’s dead.  
   Looks like we need a new battery, so he begins looking for the correct serial number and while he is showing us our choices on a computer screen, another clerk walks by with our battery in her arms and follows another customer outside to her car.
   Hubs and I look at each other and back at the clerk helping us and tell him she walked out with our battery. When she walks back in, he questions her. She’s sure it was her customer’s battery and the one left behind was ours. Nope, we have the serial number of ours and it doesn’t match the one left on the counter!

   She runs back out to retrieve our battery which is now in the car that is leaving the parking lot and pounds on the window yelling, “You have the wrong battery,”  and brings it back in.  
   Now, the original guy who waited on us, who is the manager, comes out to help. He begins explaining about all the emails from corporate he had to answer and that’s why he ‘forgot’ about our battery, and calling us.

   I have to be honest, I didn’t feel like listening to his reasons for forgetting about us. But we listened, but we weren’t exactly happy about having spent so much time just trying to get a new car battery and while we didn’t rant or rave at them about it we expressed our dismay that it has taken them all afternoon to find this out and no body bothered to call us like they promised. The manager did upgrade the battery we had chosen for the same price. We completed our transaction and said goodbye.
   Thinking about this today, I must admit I wish I had been nicer, more understanding, seen it for the opportunity to laugh and shrug it off. But at the time, neither my hubs nor I could react that way. And while we didn’t yell at anyone, or demand a bigger discount than what the manager did give us, we felt put upon and did not have a very positive attitude when we left the store.

   We all see things from different perspectives, whether you are a customer, a clerk, a student or teacher, a parent or a child…each of us has feelings and emotions that can color how we see things. We all too, have bad days, or days which all of us are so busy we forget the task at hand or what someone has asked us to do for them. I am just as guilty of forgetting things in my job that I’ve been asked to do as was the clerk who forgot about our battery.
   The point is we truly need to try to see things from everyone’s side, not point fingers, realize we will all experience disappointment, not be satisfied and that things in life aren’t always fair or are too much trouble and time.

   I can’t imagine what had been going on in the day for that manager or those two clerks. They were most likely having the same busy day I was having. 
   So, what I got out of my lesson in civility this week was this: To be more accepting of my limitations and other people’s limitations, and not letting that upset me and in fact, not even irritate me because humanity begs for civility from each of us and what right do we have to not try to use more civility in our society?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Filling The Bucket!

Yes, yes, I said FILLING the bucket, not kicking it! I ran across a children's book today while surfing the web, called, "Have You Filled A Bucket Today?" it's a book written in 2006 by Carol McCloud. I'm a little behind because all of my kids are way beyond the age range of 5-9 on this book, but better late than never.
This cute book helps small children understand manners, helping others and unselfishness. It tells them that doing good deeds and helping others adds to their bucket of happiness each day. Selfish acts will take away from other's buckets.
I compare it to God's grace. There are days when we add to the bucket of grace God gives each of us and days when we selfishly take away grace.
So is you have small kids, here's a cute and helpful book to help them learn grace, good manners and brotherly love!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Civility Week 27, July 2, 2012

Whew! It’s hot in this part of the nation, which at this time could be anywhere in the nation on any given day of July! But what an excellent time to practice civility! Our tempers seem to flare when we are hot and uncomfortable. But here in Southeast Missouri, when we get humidity PLUS heat,  it really gets unbearable.

We need a good dose of rain to not only cool off the temps but to cool us off too. That cleansing bit of rain has a wondrous way of cooling our tempers too! Have you every noticed during a sudden downpour after a long hot day, people don’t mind the rain so much and even laugh and joke about getting wet? I call it the “Rain Civility.”

Rain Civility makes friends out of the people you meet while standing under the awning at the grocery waiting for the rain to slow down so you can get your groceries to the car without getting soggy. Rain Civility is what happens when you and a stranger are standing on the curb waiting to cross the street and a bus goes by drenching both of you with its spray and you turn and laugh with each other.

My wish is that everyone in the world could experience Rain Civility and somehow keep it all the time!

I guess that is a little unrealistic, but then why do the woman at Miss America Pageants say they want world peace? It’s the same wish!

Why does rain do that to us? And it’s not those long all day rain showers, either. Rain Civility only happens after short thunderstorm rains or even after a snow storm when people are forced to look at the world in a totally different way. All of the sudden we are all in the same boat: how do we shovel out of all that snow? How do we get to our car without getting soaked? Our common experience pulls us together and makes us instant friends even for a few minutes.

My wish this week is that you experience a little Rain Civility in your part of the country.  Peace!