Liberty is at the core, the very founding of this nation.
We failed, as a species, for many years in this area.
Enslaving humans, treating women as second-class citizens that could not own property or vote.
Segregating children by the color of their skin, not seeing the content of their character, as Dr. King admonished.
Mistreating and abusing people because of their religious affiliation or gender orientation.
Times changed. No more slavery. No more second-class genders. Free to be me.
Somewhere in the fight for “me”, it seems we forgot about “you”.
In our quests to be our best and truest selves, focus turned inward. I can do this, and no one can stop me. I can believe this. I can say that.
Hip-hooray for all this embracing liberty, but can’t we bring civility along?
There was a time when people took pride in their appearance. They didn’t come to work looking like they are ready to go to the rodeo, the gym, or the beach. We dress down, “because I can”. But how about dressing nicely just ’cause it’s…well, nice?
There was a time when people kept their opinions to themselves sometimes. To avoid offense. To show respect. I will be the first in line to defend your right to free speech. But can’t we sometimes exercise our right to be quiet?
There was a time when rudeness was considered rude. When apologies were in vogue. There was a time when an apology was so serious it took on the words “I beg your pardon.“.
There was a time when people could see beyond their own skin. When people realized we are all cut from the same cloth. We are kindred. We are the same inside. We all feel and wish and dream the same. We can all be hurt and insulted. We all wish for happiness and comfort.
“Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”
Let the other guy go ahead of you in the checkout or on the on ramp.
Hold the door for someone.
How about “May I have a cheeseburger, please?” instead of “Gimme a cheeseburger and a super-sized Coke.”
How about waiting patiently, like your mother taught you, when the person in line counts change or buys lottery tickets or does whatever else they do while we wait in line behind them?
Suppose young people treated adults with respect? Suppose adults showed the same respect for young people?
Suppose, instead of tolerance, we could teach the generations to come to move beyond that?
Beyond “mainstreaming” and “inclusion”. Beyond mandates that command us to treat one another with respect.
A long time ago, a wise man gave us this entire lesson wrapped in a single sentence.
“So as you do unto these, the least of my brethren, you do unto me.”
So here’s to liberty. Here’s to freedom. Here’s to celebrating your own uniqueness in the world. You celebrate you, and I will celebrate you.
I ask only that you don’t forget about him and her and the other one and me. We’re out here. Outside your skin.
Wouldn’t you love to celebrate being the most courteous person you know? I sure would!
One last thing. There are instructions for this respect and consideration stuff. Write it down if you need to.
“Love one another.”.
Seek peace (and manners),