This is probably one of those topics that to some will be an obvious clue as to my age. To others, no problem is seen to the point they will say, “What’s the big deal?” Is politeness and common courtesy so rarely found today that people can mistake it for something else? For some of you, there is really nothing to compare what it is like now to sometime earlier. People have always acted the same way. And, you might ask, what is this common courtesy stuff?
I have to admit that I struggle with this when I am driving on a crowded expressway where you are supposed to follow at a distance from the car ahead of you. I am convinced if people continually merge in front of me and I move back to give them the proper distance, that eventually I will come to a complete stop. So I can occasionally find myself too close to the car ahead of me. And besides, people do not always give me room to merge.
A number of years ago, right turn on red was not legal. Even if you could see five blocks to your left as you waited at a red light, according to the laws, you needed to sit and wait. Now you can come to a full stop and then make a right turn. How many time have you seen a pedestrian crossing the street have to jump out-of-the-way to avoid a turning vehicle? Common courtesy, and in this case, the law, states you allow the pedestrian to cross before you make the turn. More often than not, the person crossing the street stops and allows the car to turn; probably more out wanting to survive than anything else.
I have to admit that many times I feel justified in not showing common courtesy or politeness to others. I have every right to make the guy behind me wait in the twenty items or less aisle even though I have nineteen items and he has two. After all I am under the limit and in a hurry. I know that I should hold the door for those two elderly couples at the crowded restaurant and let them go in first. I also know if I do that they will get the next table instead of me this is “special” husband/wife time out together. I do not want my wife to have to wait too long. So, get your own door.
Despite all my “good” excuses the real reason for not being courteous is because “I” comes before “U” and not just in the alphabet. If I do not protect my rights and take care of myself, who will? I do not see people rushing to show me all that much courtesy and besides, did God really say we need to always put everyone first. (How many times did Eve hear those four words in her sleep?) Sometimes it is just too difficult to consistently do the right thing.
What can I do so being polite or showing courtesy to others becomes a way of living for me? Maybe start with the fact that despite there are times, many times, when I am not polite or show courtesy to others, my Heavenly Father still sent his Son to die to pay the punishment for all my sins. He did that not because he is polite or courteous but because he loved me; loved me because of who he is and not because of what I am. He did it only because he is love. Now I am assured of eternal life, not because I am courteous or polite; but only because of God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice.
That is a pretty wonderful gift. And how do I respond to God’s undeserved act of love to me? I guess waiting for someone to cross the street isn’t all that tough. And if I have to wait a little longer to eat or let three cars merge in front of me, or even let the guy behind me check out first, despite that I am under the allowable number of items, is that really the end of my world? Especially if I remember that Jesus’ death guarantees me a perfect life in heaven.
OK, I convinced myself that not only do I need to practice common courtesy, but that I will do whatever it takes to be courteous on an ongoing basis. Want to come along? Come back and tell me about your experience. I will wait you.