It is amazing to watch how the world is moving away from being a polite society. We used to treat people with respect, and now most of us (me included) spend time finding fault with everything. Is it just that we have learned critical analysis skills more than other generations? Maybe it is because we have taken God out of politics and, to some degree, society. It could even be that our culture has become more laid back; less highly civilized.
At the same time, we are more worried about hurting people’s feelings. Isn’t this a contradiction? We tell people how we think they should think and speak, but we keep important information about our relationships to ourselves. We don’t speak when someone does something wrong to avoid hurting their feelings. In the end, they come to believe behaviors are acceptable because no one corrects them. I’ll use a simple example. I have seen people speaking in cube environments, disturbing the peace and work efficiency of others. No one says, “hey, could you go in the other room?” The behavior perpetuates because the talkers come to believe that their behavior is ok. They do not get the social cues that make them curb their behavior.
Loving people means ensuring that they have the information necessary to make good decisions. Loving people means, accepting them, even their faults. It means, treating people with respect. It means learning proper ways of communicating improper behaviors. It means learning ways to ask people to change their behaviors, especially when it is just a personal request, like picking socks up off the floor. It means asking yourself, is this intended as constructive feedback, or am I just being critical because it negatively affects me?
This made me think of something my dad said recently. We were talking about parenting skills. He distinguished between parenting to improve the parent’s world, and parenting to teach the children to be more socially adjusted, polite people. I’m sure these can sometimes be the same thing, but not always.
Let’s spend some time today considering our relationships, and our encounters with strangers in the world. Are we treating people like they are a part of the body of Christ; a part of us? Let’s think about where we might be overly critical of people and their behaviors. Are we seeking to create the best environment for us, or is it really something that is offensive to everyone? Invite the Holy Spirit into your day to tap you on the shoulder when maybe you should speak up when you normally wouldn’t or to stay silent when you would normally strike out.
Published September 10, 2019