Civility is defined as “polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior.” I think we can all agree that it is in short supply these days. From road rage to domestic abuse to sexual harassment to police brutality, we are continually reminded of how uncivil others can be. So how do we respond to a world gone mad? By practicing what universally is known as the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want them to treat you. It may sound simple but it is anything but easy!
Not too long ago I lost my temper with the owner of our landscaping company after their failure to adequately clear our walkway after a blizzard, resulting in my wife slipping and hitting her head. Thankfully she was okay but I was none too happy that she fell and I expressed that in no uncertain terms. After my outburst I offered an apology, which I am not convinced was accepted, but I regretted it nonetheless.
On the brighter side, I picked up some trash at the entrance to our local grocer the other day and was promptly thanked by an elderly lady who had witnessed it, which made me feel even better for having done so. As a result, she helped make my day by kindly acknowledging the simple act. As Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
I am reminded that none other than children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers attributed his gentle persona and respectful treatment of children to witnessing a pie-in-the-face incident that he considered demeaning to a fellow human being. And upon reading my alumni magazine the other day I was also reminded of our college tradition of holding doors open for each other as we entered campus buildings. It is such simple acts of kindness that restore our faith in humanity and open the door for others to act likewise.