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Be polite to others, you don’t know their story | Faith

by | November 3, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: October 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

It takes very little effort to be polite to others, but it takes more to be rude.
In our society today, I see impoliteness more than I have ever seen it in my entire life. Some people do it just to hurt others, or because the victim cannot or will not stand up to them. During my childhood, I suffered so much offense from others because most of the time, I would not stand up for myself. So there were those who were impolite to me because they could do it. Did it hurt me? Yes, it did. Did it paralyze or cripple me? Yes, figuratively, but only temporarily.
One day I finally realized if I was going to move forward in life, I could not continue to let people treat me this way and get away with it. I learned to come back at them with words that would leave them looking at me as if I were from another planet. Were they bad words? No. I loved the gift of having a very good vocabulary, so I “told them off” in an educated way that usually astounded them. I wasn’t familiar with this verse of Scripture at the time, but I was actually doing what it says in Proverbs 15:1 (KJV): “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Some of these perpetrators did not know or did not even care to know that I was dealing with a very delicate situation in my home life. My maternal grandmother raised me until I was 14 years old. However, during most of that time, she was not well, physically. She tried to hide it from us as much as she could. There were times when I had to take over many of the chores in the house because she was not able to do them. Oftentimes, after school when my peers were outside playing and having fun, I had things that I had to do to help my grandmother. I longed to be with them, but some of them laughed and teased me about having to do so many chores. Some even called me a “slave,” not knowing the reality of the situation. When my grandmother had her good days, I was free to mingle with my peers. She taught me so much that remains with me until this day, although I could not see it at the time. Therefore, be polite to others because you do not know their story.
In one of the schools where I taught during my career, I noticed how a few of the students were so disrespectful to the head custodian. I watched it until I could not take another day of it. One day this group of boys kept calling him by his last name and refused “to put a handle to his name.”
Because the custodial staff was not allowed to discipline the students, he could not say anything to put them in their places. Well, I could. I noticed how his feelings were so hurt because this same group of boys was so impolite to him often.
On this particular day I walked up to them and told them that I had better not see or hear them disrespect him, or any other member of the custodial staff, in my presence. I went on to let them know that these members of our staff were adults, just as the others of us, and they were to be given the same level of respect.
The head custodian saw me later that day and said, “I could just hug your neck for what you did for me today. They have no respect for us. Thank you so much.” When they were disrespecting him on the day that I reprimanded them, I could see the pain in his eyes for the impoliteness that was being thrust upon him.
Be polite to others, for you do not know their story. Titus 3:1-2 (ESV) affirms: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Put yourself in the shoes of others. Do you want people to be impolite to you? I don’t think so. It has a way of coming back to hurt you worse that what you dished out.
Please take note of this anonymously written illustration, “A Man with a Lamp,” to further grasp my point.
“Once upon a time, in a small town, there was a man who lived by himself who couldn’t see. He was blind. Yet, he carried a lighted lamp with him whenever he went out at night. One night as he was coming home after having a dinner outside, he came across a group of young travelers. They saw that he was blind, yet carrying a lighted lamp. They started passing rude comments at him and made fun of him. One of them asked him, ‘Hey, man! You are blind and can’t see anything! Why do you carry the lamp then?’
“The blind man replied, ‘Yes, unfortunately, I am blind, and I can’t see anything. But a lighted lamp which I am carrying is for the people like you who can see. You may not see the blind man coming and end up pushing me. That is why I carry a lighted lamp.’ The group of travelers felt ashamed and apologized for their behavior.”
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!

(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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