“Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” Dave Willis
The other day I was in Muncie while my oldest was auditioning for the theater program at Ball State University. I was waiting behind another vehicle waiting to pull out on a busy street. When the vehicle in front of me pulled out into traffic, with at least two cars lengths before the next vehicle (translated as I would have pulled out as well), the person they turned in front of slammed on their horn and flipped them off with both hands! Why? That is another human being and they didn’t even do anything wrong. The person giving “the double salute” was clearly screaming at the other driver as well. They showed no regard at all for the other human life involved.
Increasingly, people interact with each other by blaring horns, nasty words, horrible looks, road rage, etc. There is also the issue of using people for someone’s own gratification or purpose and then discarding them when they are finished as if they are simply an object.
The Me Generation
The youth and singles of the 1970’s were referred to as the “Me Generation”, but I think they had nothing on people today. People, in general, are so focused on and caught up with themselves that they honestly don’t understand when someone is hurt by them or unhappy with how they are being treated. The person who is self-focused doesn’t usually even consider that the other person’s feelings or desires should be a concern. It only matters what they are going through moment by moment. They don’t have a desire to care about the other person unless it can give them recognition, something in return or give them reason to think even more highly of themselves. I’ve had conversations with people like this and it blows my mind every time when I see their inability to understand someone else’s feelings. And they are usually miserable because of it. It is a very empty way to live.
We learned the “golden rule” as children – “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). It’s also what we teach our kids. In fact, in every case I’ve seen, a child is punished or redirected and taught to do things differently when they hit or say mean things to another child. We expect our children to care about others and yet we don’t do the same with the people around us. It doesn’t make sense.
I used to get upset often when I was driving and others were driving like “idiots” (the word I used often during these times) until I realized it was just upsetting me more. I also realized that this mood would follow me for a time. That’s when I decided it just didn’t matter that much. I am not perfect and the way some people drive amazes me still every single day, but unless they are going to cause a wreck, it’s just not worth my investment to get upset.
Life matters, or at least it should, but even small courtesies are disappearing. Common niceties are disappearing even here on WordPress. When I write about the sweet ladies in my Bible study or refer to someone as a lady, WordPress ALWAYS marks it as an error and suggests I replace it with the word women or woman instead. I am using the word lady for a reason. These women are amazing and loving. The first definition of lady in my Dictionary app is “a woman who is refined, polite and well-spoken”. That is the definition of these ladies! Why does a program even know to suggest an alternative for this word?
It is all so confusing to me, especially when it doesn’t take much to change and respond differently. Simply not responding to how people drive or taking a moment to acknowledge another person with a courtesy or smile changes the tone immediately. I find it amazing how many times I have been told by workers at stores or a drive thru how I made a difference in their day just by smiling at them. It’s sad that it is so noteworthy.
This is not an abstract idea that is hard to understand or implement. Every interaction with another person can make a difference, for the good or the bad, in the other person’s day. It can also make a difference in yours as well. Remember there is a real person on the other end of your actions and words. How would you want them to treat you?
~ Joanna Lynn
(For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10)