Uncommon Courtesy

There was a TV show called “Designing Women” about a group of four very different Southern women who were interior decorators.  My favorite line was, “The only thing worse than being poor is having bad manners.”  What we used to call ‘common courtesy’ has not only vanished, it seems people have gotten meaner.  (By “mean,” I am not including profane language.  That actually amuses me.)  By rude and mean I would include aggressive drivers, sullen retail clerks, cyber bullies, people on mobile phones in public, and almost anyone standing in line for anything.

Here’s a story about the worst of anonymous online slander, especially among young people.  Betty Rollins reports on “Gossip.” It is about seven minutes and is both shocking and encouraging.


I also found a web site “Islam for Today” with a page “The Great Importance of Good Manners by Muslims.”


I don’t know the reputation of the web site, I’m just grateful for any religious people who care about good manners.

Among the mean-spirited words and actions, we have to include liars.  Let’s face it, no matter how much integrity you think you have, we all resort to deceit on occasion for a variety of reasons.  The familiar reason for an acceptable lie is to keep from hurting someone’s feelings.  Pragmatically speaking, there’s lying and there’s lying.  One distinction I recommend it to try and ascertain intentions and habits.  If someone has a pattern of deceit there’s a problem.  Most of us would consider this an ethical problem, but it is also a social problem.  And I don’t mean Paris Hilton saying she mistook cocaine for chewing gum.

That takes me to two public figures who love to talk about God but have an ongoing pattern of mean-spirited verbal attacks on anyone who disagrees with them combined with just plain making things up to support their nastiness, with an intention to mislead people.  If “liar, liar, pants on fire” was true, neither of these two could ever sit down.  On a good day, it is quite easy for me to dismiss Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.  What astounds me is how popular they are.  Are their fans the same people cutting me off in traffic?  If they are the same folks self-righteously marching to church on Sunday morning, then something is amiss.



Hijacking any religion because of politics or ego, does not make those actions or the individual genuinely religious.  It is deceit.  It’s mean.  It’s bad manners.  I want more kind religions.  The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is simple.  My religion is kindness.”  If you can only accept instruction from Jesus, then I offer you John 13:35: “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (NIV).

I just started reading a terrific book, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  I leave you with this quote from the back panel:  “Here (in Pakistan and Afghanistan), we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die.”

BLOGGER’S POSTSCRIPT:  As of this posting, “All Things Religious” will be surpassing 1,000 hits since its April 2010 creation.  Thank you so much for reading.  Though not many readers have been comfortable posting public comments, I have received numerous e-mails and I have responded to all of them.  Thanks, everyone.  -J.B.

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  • Dennis Reffner  On September 7, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Nice blog Jacqui! You are quite the writer, and I have enjoyed everything I have read so far. I have almost completely stopped watching news or politics on television, and sad to report last week covered up the OBAMA bumper sticker on my car with a KUVO JAZZ sticker…I just can’t take politics of any stripe anymore… But I would hazard a guess that you are right about the people cutting you off in traffic, probably Sara Palin and Glen Beck fans! I just don’t know what some people are thinking…or if they are thinking at all! Keep up the good work.

    • allthingsreligious  On September 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      My high school English teacher told me you can’t be a good writer unless you are a good reader. You are a great reader, so for that and many other reasons, I value your input. Thanks for taking the time to read my columns. -J.B.

  • Marjorie  On September 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Jacqui, you definitely have some writing skills! I love the Dalai Lama quote, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” I’m definitely going to use that somewhere.

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