Monday, February 6, 2012

Civility Week 6- Feb 6, 2012

Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.” ~       P. M. Forn

   Six weeks into the year…and believe it or not I am still remembering I’m supposed to be working on civility. Usually I have trouble remembering my New Year’s Resolution by this date, so writing on this every week seems to be helping me!
   Wow, what a weekend to behave civilly! Daughter #2 and I donated some time, money and goose bumps for charity when we participated in the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge at our state park.
   The goal was to raise money for the Special Olympics. The challenge was to jump into the freezing cold lake, wade out 35-40 feet and come back to the beach.  We were the last ones to register and so were in the last heat. Groups of 10-12 people are in each heat.  Lots of people wear costumes and really get into the spirit of the day. Some people are a little too spirited, or should I say, drink too many spirits and thus dampen the spirits of everyone around them.

   The group ahead of us was one of those groups, young, painted, costumed, some in pretty scanty clothing, and literally falling down drunk.  Ok, I try to tell myself, they are doing this for charity, cut them some slack although it’s only 2:00 in the afternoon.  After waiting in line for over an hour, we finally get started.  The line begins moving toward the beach, where each group will have their turn in the water.

   About midway, the group in front of us gets off the main path toward the beach and into the mud. That was a bad idea. It was like watching five year olds discovering mud all over again. They fell down in the mud, began throwing mud balls at each other. One of the extremely loud obnoxious guys is trying to catch mud balls in his mouth.  People on either side of them in line moved back not wanting to get smacked in the head with a mud ball.

   As we moved closer to the starting line and the groups at the head of the line were already getting their dunking in and running out, the group in front of us move off the path completely and begin fighting in the mud, the guys AND the girls. Costume parts are falling off.  The situation is bordering on the obscene. One of the guys is picking up one of the girls over his shoulder and falling in the mud with her. Some of the crowd begins to laugh which of course eggs them on.  I am getting extremely embarrassed by the sight of all this. Looking the other way is not an option. My 20 year daughter is with me. Why doesn’t somebody do something?  Why don’t I have the guts to Mom it up and tell them in my best mom voice to stop these antics and behave? Was it because I was the only person in line over the age of 30 and there were 12 of them and only 1 of me? Yes! Do I hate speaking up in public? Yes!   Would you have said something? If so what? I was desperately trying to figure out what to say or do when suddenly a little voice inside my head said “pray.”

     “Pray? I ask.  What good is that going to do? We need some major bar bouncers out here! Where’s law enforcement?"  But since I was totally inept at what to do about all this, I began saying the  St. Michael prayer. 
   I am not kidding you when I tell you what happened next.  I felt a sudden presence, like something giant had  landed on top of all of us. I don’t know how else to describe it.  It was heavy, but not crushing, not scary, but made me catch my breath. I looked back at the drunk group, and they had calmed down, gotten back on the path and quit most of the horseplay.  For the rest of the time until they dunked into the water, they had quit most of the obscene stuff and the mud play.

   I began talking to my daughter, hoping it all wouldn’t start up again. We talked with the other people around us.  The feeling of the presence passed.  Finally it was our turn to run into the lake.  The other group dispersed, loud still,  but most of the antics had stopped.
   What happened? I still don’t know and haven’t even said anything to my daughter about it yet. I don’t usually feel such things happen. But all I know is it happened the moment I began the St. Michael prayer. Everyone became more civil then.

   I’ve heard of such occurences before. But why me, why then? Did St. Michael have pity on me because I didn’t have the nerve to speak up and tell them to stop it?    I still feel lost as to what I should have done to end it.  Haven't we all gotten caught in a situation where we felt that, “it’s not my business, my kid, my property,that’s being assaulted or attacked.  And yet, it was! It my eyes, ears and propriety that was being attacked as well as my daughters and everyone else around me. And I felt powerless to do anything!  I thank my Guardian Angel for whispering to me that day.  He got me to finally do something, knowing how timid I was feeling.
   So, my civility was assaulted that day to the max as was my ego.  I have the feeling I’m getting pulled to learn another lesson about learning how to speak up and not cave in to fear and shyness.  Rats, I hate speaking up, I hate drawing attention to myself or being jeered at. But apparently sometimes we don’t have a choice, do we?

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