Sunday, February 5, 2012

First Day Musings --- "Act Like You Are Somebody"

What has happened to civility?

My Grandmother had the nicest way to remind us of how to behave whenever we went somewhere. "Act like you are somebody," she would caution, meaning for us to remember that we came from a decent family with values, morals, and, most of all, a reputation of being civil. In short, don't get out there and do something unkind, mean, or illegal.

There seems to be a trend in acting not like we are "somebody", but rather acting like we are Somebody -- somebody more important, smarter, meaner, and self-centered. Need to pull out in traffic? Well, you will just have to wait. Waiting for a parking place? Oops, I was faster. Someone says something you don't agree with? Well, just tell them how stupid they are.

Used to be, we could disagree and still be friends. We could worship differently, live differently, and even vote differently, but we still could be polite and courteous. Where did that go?

Just once and a while, I would like to hear, "Yes'm." Or, I'd like to see someone hold a door for another person; see a car let another pull in ahead of them; or, listen to a discussion that didn't include a rash of profanity that would make a pirate blush. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see the Golden Rule really a part of every day life?

How do we change the world? Well, really, we can't. We can only change the world we live in daily. How can you be more civil in your world? How can you encourage others to be more civil?

When once the forms of civility are violated,
there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.
 - Samuel Johnson, British author


  1. Seems like the more people are in the rat race, the more they act like rats, Matty. Here in our little place in the middle of nowhere,gentlemen still hold the door for ladies, we help the elderly, and there's always time for a bit of conversation. But when I lived near a large metropolitan area, I never saw so much use of the middle finger,horn honking and just generally anger and unfriendly people. Just have to follow your own rules on civility and not let them change you. Just like your grandma said, remember who you are. Funny thing is, all that incivility never saves them any time. Just makes their blood pressure go up and up!

  2. I so notice this in the classroom. Kids are "raised" to be barbarians. There are very few please and thank yous. In fact, I have to demand them. I just feel that it's a self centered culture. Takes the "me" generation to new heights. A shame, really. Civility is a lost art!
    Great post!

  3. Hi Matty, this was a very true and powerful post. When I lived in the L.A. area people were being shot daily on the freeway, and in and around the area where we lived. It was awful. We were right in the middle of the riots in 1992. Probably the scariest thing I have ever been through. I will never forget fleeing our apartment as the fires moved up up the street and what it felt like to be under marshall law and look out my window and see an army tank drive by and armed soldiers in front of our grocery store. If you ever watched the movie "Freedom Writers", our first apartment was located behind that very high school. If you walked along the street you were often afraid to look people in the eyes because it was considered to be a sign of disrespect.

    When I moved here to my little town in Georgia I didn't realize how this all had effected me until I had a new friend ask me very seriously why it was that I always ducked my head and didn't look people in the eye. I felt like I had landed on another planet, children talked to me, people greeted me on the street. I had never been so "Yes Maam"d in my whole life! People greeted me as Miss Delisa every time I walked into the post office or went in to pay for my gas. :) I am so incredibly thankful, deep in my heart for the dear people out there who hold onto courtesy and train their children to be kind, caring and thoughtful. Delisa

  4. Dear Matty,

    Thank you for another wonderful post! I see a lot of both disrespect and respect here in the Kansas City area, but there certainly is more civility the farther away from the city I go! I guess the answer is to be a shining light to others, letting them go ahead of us, holding the door open, and saying "Yes, Ma'am" ourselves, and turning the cheek when others offend us.

    Love and blessings,


  5. Amen, wonderful words. I am always suprised how people accept rude behavior from children, like they cannot be kind and thoughtful. So sad xox Clarice


Thanks for dropping in on the farm today! I enjoy your comments!