Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Civility Week 21, May 21, 2012

“We will work with each other, we will work side by side, we will work with each other, we will work side by side and we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
“They’ll Know We Are Christians” Peter Scholtes

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. Forni

   I think these two phrases, one from a song we sing at church and the other a more secular approach say a lot about how much we need Civility in our lives today.

   To live civilly we must work side by side, guarding each person’s dignity with love. How else can we possibly all get along with each other?
   Why would we think we are only individuals gathered together in a work, social or whatever atmosphere and not have to behave peacefully, gently, calmly at all times or as much as possible?

   Being civil sometimes means you cannot just think of yourself, or put yourself first. It means thinking of other people’s feelings, being sensitive to them. Of course we cannot control how they take what we say or do, but there should still be a certain amount of carefulness we must exercise to not destroy a sense of peace, calm and civility in one another.

   As a Catholic Christian, I think we have even more reason to want to show that “Christian” side of ourselves to others or else, what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?
   If we are being rude, uncharitable, uncaring, and selfish we are definitely not living our Christianity. Even when attacked, Christians can stand up for what is right without destroying another person’s integrity or moral character. Want examples? Jesus Christ, whom we are named after, never once screamed at someone who disagreed with Him.  Why do we insist on screaming at people who maybe just don’t understand why abortion is wrong?  Even if they do know it is wrong screaming doesn’t turn their hearts around. Education, love and caring is what brought people to follow Jesus. He explained the Scriptures to them, treated them with love and compassion, fed them, healed them, showed them the Father’s love and forgiveness and now for 2000 years millions of people are still listening to His words.

   There is an atheist living in the southwest United States, who never had a kind word from a Christian. Because he was the one who railed against the Nativity Scene on the public square, he was the one who wanted God taken out of everything he was vilified, spit upon, yelled at- by Christians.
   He was undertaking a huge court case concerning the Nativity Scene in his hometown, when he found out he was going blind from macular degeneration. He dropped the suit because he knew he couldn’t fight the case blind.

   A fellow citizen of the town where he lived, a Christian, found out about his disease. You know what she did? Instead of thanking God for cursing him with blindness, she felt sorry for him. She wondered if anyone had ever shared God’s love for him. She decided to do it.
   She went to her pastor at her church, and began a collection for the man to have surgery and to provide for his family while he was out of work because of his disease.

   Others from the community joined in including other churches. The atheist was overwhelmed. All his life he had been shunned because of his lack of belief. Finally here was someone really acting like what he had heard Christians were supposed to act like.
   He was so grateful for their love and support he had a change of heart. He dropped the suit and even bought a star for the town’s Nativity Scene.

   The power of really acting like a Christian is overwhelming.
   It can be very hard to do, especially if someone is fighting to destroy your beliefs and values. Yet Jesus showed us that not by anger do we change hearts, but by constantly showing love and civility.

   I want to do that too.  Do you?

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