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Thursday, July 5, 2012

There used to be this thing called subtlety...

Once upon a time, in a land long ago, there was an honorable thing called "manners". Children were raised to say "please" and "thank you", to give the best seats to the adults and to have self control. Adults felt no compelling need to let every word they think just fall from their mouths, they knew how to speak politely to each other even in disagreement. A handshake was as good as a contract. It was such a lovely place, where people had class and respect for each other. And lo, they even had respect for themselves! What a world it was, and what a life. And what a shock to be tossed headlong into this one.

I walk uncomfortably in a graceless world, hearing and seeing ignorant and unapologeticly rude political commentary. Children are actively and openly disrespectful. Shows like "Jersey Shore", that showcase and promote the most vapid, shallow and tactless of human behavior, are the popular programs of the day. Self-centeredness is misconstrued as good boundaries, and self-esteem is related only to shallow appearances and pursuits. Where is honor and depth?

I see goodness sometimes, so I know it exists. It exists in more places than it would initially appear. Sometimes it's hard to find because it lacks the garishness and drama of common, attention-seeking behavior. It is calm, subtle, and persistent. It persists in spite of obnoxious narcissism. It persists in spite of  a frequent and tenacious need to shock and disgust with a complete lack of couth or accuracy. It persists in action and effort, contrary to the verbal explosion of never-ending noise that surrounds it. I look for good everywhere, and get better and better at spotting it.

I know good people, and I know great people. The great are self-contained, confident. They don't need to constantly shout about themselves and their opinions in all possible venues. They know how to use language graciously. Clearly, I am not great, but I am blessed to know great people. They don't talk but they act. They don't go on about their opinions, but implement changes that they know are right. They have enough respect for themselves that they respect other people. Their respect of others means that they speak clearly but diplomatically in all venues. A great person knows how to make a point without put-downs or sarcasm; they have respect and reason on their side and that's enough. It's good to remember.

I can't go back to a previous time or place. What I can do, though, is bring the good things forward with me. It means being mindful and making an effort to avoid getting caught by some of the more ridiculous scenarios that currently exist. It means remembering to be who i am in spite of who I'm dealing with. No easy task, but perhaps worth the effort.

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