Do I Detect A Little Slippage Here?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems our “good intentions” department is a little low on inventory these days.

Looking around, civility appears a little thin. Chivalry – despite those who like to say it isn’t dead – is fighting for a good, deep breath. And sympathy? Sympathy is struggling to stay afloat.

I’m just not sure we’re as nice as we could be any more. Has it become acceptable to get by with the minimum, to be happy with  a half-hearted effort, the “old college try”? Are we too closed off emotionally? Too busy? Just tired?

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  • It’s standing-room only on the bus. A woman boards and limps slowly into the aisle. She is clearly going to have difficulty holding on to a strap above her head or bracing herself against a pole. A young guy sitting on the aisle makes inadvertent eye contact with her and mumbles, “Would you like my seat?” but makes no move to get up. Self-consciously, she declines; he shrugs and returns to his reading. No one else even looks up.

Was that chivalry?

  • Two friends are at odds with each other after it comes out that one shared information the other intended to be kept confidential. The one who gossiped says to the other, “If I did something wrong, I’m really sorry.”

Was that an apology?

  • A group of employees are sharing lunch in the company break room. One launches into a profanity-laden critique of the football game over the weekend as several people wince. He pauses to say “Pardon my ‘French’. . .” to the group in general, then continues his colorful tirade.

Does his disclaimer make this okay?

  • A young widow tearfully accepts condolences at the funeral of her slain husband. Mourner after mourner offers, “If you need anything, please call me.”

Is this comforting?

What if the guy on the bus got out of his seat and then offered it to the limping woman? It would cost him his comfortable ride just this once but it might lift her spirits and maybe even keep her safe.

What if the friend’s apology were reworded to, “I was wrong; I’m really sorry.” Price tag: a little humility in exchange for a healed relationship.

Would it change things if the employee in the break room paused to say, “Pardon me”, and then continued his editorial comments without the profanity? It would show some class and self-awareness . . . and probably not detract from his story even a little.

And the widow, adrift in grief, what might a specific offer of help mean to her? A small investment of creativity might ease one more burden off her aching shoulders and remind her that she is loved.

I don’t think we’re too tired or too emotionally closed off. I don’t think we’re too busy, either. We just need to pay a little more attention. It costs so little but the dividends are measurable . . . maybe even priceless.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to

the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

Do you see “slippage” in civility and good intentions around you? How would you suggest it be addressed?

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

5 thoughts on “Do I Detect A Little Slippage Here?”

  1. I was absolutely shocked when MIng and I took the train to Perth the other week and NOBODY stood up and gave seats to women, elderly etc. Ming did because he knows but maybe that is the problem – do people not know anymore? Do they have to be taught manners – basic politeness? Argh!

  2. You are right and I think we have become a selfish people. Our basic values have shifted and the courtesy we would have given others in the past is no longer there. The unfortunate thing is that this is now the norm. How do we change it? I dont know.

    1. I see it regularly as I commute into downtown Chicago. On the flip side, the times I encounter people who are civil and even kind are wonderful by comparison! How do we change it? We can only change ourselves (but at least we can do that). Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  3. Thanks for the post. We are ever only one generation away from chaos and civility is an uphill battle. On the plus side, I sometimes am astounded by chance occurrences of kindness that give me pause and hope both!

Your feedback is welcome!