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  A Christian Faith Magazine August 2004, Volume 10, Issue 1  
Courtesy and Civility

Rev. Mark Connolly
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Every now and then the average person looks back onto his or her childhood and recognizes certain values taught to her as a child that are not being practiced today. I would like to share a few thoughts with you on how our culture has really destroyed some of our Christian values and the Christian habits we were taught many years ago.

Two themes I would like to stress, the lack of civility and the lack of courtesy. Concerning the lack of civility, you and I came from an era many years ago when it was common practice to stand up in the presence of a woman, to help a woman with a chair or to keep a door open as a person was coming through it. Whatever has happened to those habits is mysterious. But we know they are not as prevalent today as they were when we were children. A lack of civility is becoming a norm in our every day way of living. A lack of civility is manifest in the kind of foul language that has becomes so popular in every day speaking. When you think of language, it is a way to communicate, a way to communicate with charity and compassion. But when you think of the way language is being used today the four letter words and all the rotten language of the street that has infiltrated our homes and our lives, we really cannot blame the culture. We have to blame ourselves for not living up to the values that we were taught many years ago. Please and thank you were common phrases. A certainly degree of respect for the elderly. A certain degree of reverence for parents. Those were the norms that all of us studied, all of us practiced and now many of us have ignored.

The second quality that is slowly disappearing from our culture is the quality of courtesy. Hilaire Belloc has a wonderful line about courtesy when he said, "though it is much less than holiness, there is something about the grace of God and the man who practices courtesy". I know we have come through the feminist movement in our culture. Our culture has become more materialistic, but there is no excuse just because these practices are infiltrating our psyche for showing basic courtesy to each other. If you ever want to see a violation of basic courtesy, look for the people on the highway who constantly practice what we call road rage. Those people are no different behind the steering wheel of an automobile then they are in real life. Courtesy sad to say is going by the board. Courtesy and civility, even though our culture constantly berates these qualities, even though our culture constantly denies that they should be implemented, we still have the reminder from Christ, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. And that love is shown by our civility and courtesy to each other.

Couple in car

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