Keep Civility Alive

By Diana Laskaris, Stephen Ministry Leader
I’m tempted to write a book. I have already chosen the title. It’s “Me First, Me Only: The Ethics of New American Manners. Not very uplifting is it? Well, if you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced a stark change in the way people treat one another in our hurried, hassled, stressed-out world. 
People don’t let you merge onto the highway. In fact, they often speed up to prevent you from getting into a lane from the onramp in front of them. Where exactly do they think you should go? Same thing in the grocery store. I’ve been bumped into with a cart, jumped around in line, had doors slammed in my face. At first I thought people were being intentionally rude. But many, I came to realize, didn’t even know I was there - or that I indeed existed.
Have you had this sort of experience too? My mother often says that she learned from her decorum teacher (in her time, they actually had people teach you how to behave!) that there’s no excuse for poor manners. I think she’s right. No matter what’s going on with you, is it really acceptable to take it out on a total stranger who’s just going through their own day with their own problems? 
This behavior has got to stop. And it might as well stop with me first. Everyone had troubles. You have no idea what is going on in anyone else’s life. Maybe they experienced a tragedy recently, like the loss of a loved one or of a job. Maybe they’re in the throes of a nasty divorce or custody battle. Maybe they’re fighting depression or cancer. You just don’t know.
But what I do know is that if we want to truly be people of God, we need to change our attitudes toward one another. If you’re in a rush, slow down and look around you. Be aware of others. If you’re in a bad mood, smile instead of grump. If you’re upset about something in your life, then find someone you can trust to share your burdens with. 
Stephen Ministers are trained to help people struggling with the burdens in their life in ways that support them and help them help themselves. Amazing changes can happen in your life when you have the right tools. Stephen Ministers are God’s living tools. Use them. And keep civility alive.