I was driving The Parents to the airport the other morning somewhere between 4:30am and 5:20am. I'm not really sure what time it was exactly because it was dark and I couldn't see the clock. Anyway, we were going north on 17 and there was pretty much no traffic. There was one car ahead of me, in the slow lane, and I noticed that another was entering the highway. Yo Momma, The Dad and I watched in amazement as the car in front of us refused to let the other car onto the highway. Like refused. They didn't pull over into the empty left lane and then braked so that the car entering the highway had to brake hard or smash into the other car. Did I mention that there was no traffic, with no one but me coming up and there was plenty of time for this person to move over? It was stunning.
That was only the first of the rude people driving incidents for the day. It got me to thinking about how rude and angry we are becoming as a society. I had a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago about this same subject and her comment was "Even the hippies are angry!" I'm not really sure how it all happened but I've noticed that rudeness starts early, I've seen it in the Train Guy. He can get pretty demanding and rude when he feels like he's not being heard. So far the reaction that he's received isn't encouraging that behavior. So far.
I found a book the other day called Please is a Good Word to Say. It's a great kids book that talks all about manners. I bought it to have at my house when the Train Guy and Little Boy come over and am tempted to buy one for every child that I know. I remember my parents always making a big deal over manners when I was a child and I find myself making a big deal out of manners today. I say "Thank You" even when other people should be thanking me. "Please" is a regular part of my vocabulary though I'm finding that I don't use "You're Welcome" as much as I use "No problem!". My point is that I think manners are things that can be drilled into us as children and that should be continued to be drilled into us as adults.
The Dad used to always say "Kill them with kindness" whenever I was struggling with another person. Jesus said "Love your enemies". Then there's that fabulous saying "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar". Love that one. My point is rudeness or anger doesn't attract the attention that most of us desire. We attract anger, frustration and disdain, which only serves to make us more irritable and angry. It's a vicious circle.
When did we stop paying attention to the basic rules of kindness and love? When did we lose our manners? Is there a way that we can get it back? Some in the Christian world would say when everyone comes to Jesus, but I've got to say, some of the rudest people I know are Christians. I remember when I was working at Borders just dreading working Sunday afternoons when people would get out church and come to the store. And it's not just the retail stores that have stories like that. Ask any waiter or waitress what Sunday's are like, you'll hear a lot of stories.
My feeling is that rudeness is a heart and mind condition. When our hearts and minds are filled with negativity, we're rude and angry. Some of us choose to live in the negative but personally, it's hard for me to stay there because deep down my negativity comes not from the world around me but from deep inside me, from the place where I don't like myself. I don't like living in that place. When I'm unhappy 9 times out of 10 it's because I'm unhappy with myself, that's where my rudeness and anger comes from. It's hard to accept that but there it is. I'm so grateful that I don't have to figure it all out on my own though. I am so grateful for the constant presence of God who constantly points me in the direction of understanding and knowledge and who won't let me stay in that place of anger and rudeness.
"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." ~Galatians 5:14-15