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