Spirituality for Today – November 2008 – Volume 13, Issue 4

Civility In Our Society

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of elevator buttonsA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the Time Life building in New York City. On the ground floor waiting for the elevator there were about 10 people waiting for that same elevator. The elevator door opened and chaos occurred. In the elevator were two attendants taking care of two wheel chairs and their patients. The chaos occurred when almost all of the ten people waiting for the elevator rushed in before the people in the wheelchairs could be ushered out. A security guard immediately came over and enabled the wheel chair patients and their attendants to get out without any major trouble. I let the elevator go and talked to the security guard. During the conversation he said, "Father, this is just a typical example of New York rudeness". We have cases like this almost every day. And so, I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the subject of rudeness.

Almost everyone you speak to can give you examples of being the victims of personal rudeness. Whether it is the driver on the highway that scoots by and gives you the finger, whether it is that voice at the other end of a telephone that is inconsiderate and insensitive to your request. Is it the fast pace of society that has been producing so much rudeness? That is a big question mark. Years ago when we were all growing up, neighborhoods were pretty contained, we did not have the mobility, we did not have the hyperactive mentalities that we have today. So examples of rudeness were fewer than they are today.

What basically is the cause of rudeness? Basically when you look for the qualities that create a rude personality, you have to consider that he is either stressed, unhappy or rushed. There is a theory today that the me generation that only looks out for itself is a great perpetrator of rudeness. They want what they want now. They have no patience they feel a sense of entitlement, they feel that God owes them a living and that every craving should be immediately satisfied.

When you think of rudeness and those who propagate it, you have to keep in mind if you are a victim of rudeness you have experienced a hurt. Even though the people who are rude do not think they are hurting you, they nevertheless are. And so we have to approach rudeness from a two fold point of view. First from the psychological point of view and secondly, from the spiritual point of view.

From the psychological point of view, rude people are people who have a bad state of mind. That bad state of mind is often assaulted by some innocent quality that you have. It is not you who are at fault if a person is rude, it is the person who has the bad state of mind. When you get that person weaving in and out of a highway just to get ahead of you or that sales person who is insensitive to what you are asking, keep in mind it is not you who are at fault, it is those people. Their bad state of mind caused by either being unhappy or stressed or rushed is not your fault. They are always looking for someone to blame their rudeness and if you are an innocent victim make sure you realize that you cannot allow your self esteem , your sense of self worth to be victimized by a person who does not know what rudeness is all about.

Rudeness hurts. It is painful. It stings our personality. It lessens our sense of self worth. It helps take some of our peace of mind away. That is why today when you are the victim of a person who is oblivious to his rudeness you have to remember the basic principal of Sister Kenny, "any one who angers you conquers you". And the last thing you should never let happen to yourself is to lose your peace of mind by someone who uses the tactics of rudeness.

From the standpoint of the spiritual and this is the way most of us have to treat people who show signs of rudeness, if you recall the last few moments of Christ on this earth while He was handing on the Cross and the people whom He had helped were jeering at Him and screaming at Him, He simply looked at them and said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". All during His life He reminded us that we are our brothers keeper. All during His life, He reminded us that He came to call us friends, not servants. All during His life, He reminded us that we could have type of peace that can only come through a close relationship with Him. And so when it comes protecting your peace of mind, protecting your sense of self worth against someone who is definitely perpetrating rudeness, in many cases remember, you cannot change them. And you simply have to imitate what Christ said when He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do".