Skip to main content

"When did Common Courtesy become Uncommon?"

Most people understand and experience life as a difficult adventure peppered with challenges and setbacks that test our mettle.  As Superstorm Sandy runs aground, I ask the question...

"When did common courtesy become uncommon?"  

Case in point, last week, an elderly woman ahead of me at the checkout line at the local grocery store realized that she had forgotten her purse and was unable to pay for her necessities.  Judging from the items in the cart, there was an apparent urgency to her shopping trip and the checkout clerk was rather impatient and lacking in understanding.  The woman was upset to the point of tears when I stepped in to ask how much was owed for the groceries.  I asked the bagger to please help the woman get her groceries to her car as I paid the thirty-two dollars that settled the transaction.  The woman blessed me and asked for my address so that she could repay me.  I told her that it wasn't necessary and that she could just pay it forward to the next person that needed help.

With the clerk and the bagger's jaws still agape, I explained that they had missed a tremendous opportunity to feel good about helping someone that needed help.  They missed a chance to gain a customer, or friend, for life.  They, in all likelihood, would experience their own time of need.  Who would help them?  Would someone show them kindness and courtesy?

Early on in my childhood, usually as I was picking on my younger brother, my parents taught us the message of "The Golden Rule" so that we would develop an empathy towards others.  Ironically, this behavioral guidance usually followed a spanking at the hands of my mother.  Spare the rod...blah, blah, blah.  That said, me and my brother witnessed many examples of my parents assisting others, often complete strangers, in their time of need.

In 2000, this message of empathy was graphically reinforced in the movie "Pay It Forward".  This movie struck a personal chord with me on several fronts.  First, because the main character, Trevor, played by Haley Joel Osment, had a distinct likeness to my oldest son Jarrett.  Second, the educational setting, and the empathy for the caring teacher Mr. Simonet.  And most importantly, the theme of reciprocal ethical behavior that made this a memorable and inspirational film for many.


21 Acts of Human Kindness caught on film.

It was also about this time that my Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Braxton Miller, required a completed RASK (Random Act of Senseless Kindness) as a qualification to test for the next color belt. My black-belt test required a significant community service project.  My project was organizing my football players into teams of helpers that organized and executed community clean up projects and physical assistance for elderly citizens.  Even though we didn't win many football games that season, the mayor of Palatine recognized our players as winners.

Whether it's as simple as holding the door open for others, helping our neighbors shovel snow from their driveway, or helping a student learn something new... in the case of common courtesy, it is much better to give than to receive.  I have made it a daily practice to treat or help others in ways that exceed their expectations.  Selfishly, it makes me feel good - but it is also my hope that with the help of others, we can make kindness and courtesy common again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Grammarly Writing Hacks for Better Blogging

Writing is learning. It's taken me about thirty years to realize the metacognitive power of written expression, the same amount of time it took for me to recognize that my writing skills suck. Apparently, time in composition class was spent daydreaming and making silly faces at girls. Today, each post is an exercise of will power, unlearning and relearning prepositional phrases, comma usage, and when to use the ever-popular semicolon. Two hundred posts into my blogging adventure I've picked up a few tricks that add efficiency to my writing, things that make me appear smarter than I really am.


Freelance writer, Jennie Cromie, writing for ProBlogger.net, identifies five ways blogging can make you a better writer. Discover your voiceBuild social connectionsAcquire valuable feedbackBecome self-disciplinedWrite faster and more efficiently
Writing with intent to learn is the mindset to lead with. Using the right tools permits scatterbrains like me to focus on the message rather than un…

To Email, or Not

Should current students learn how to use email?


As someone who celebrates a clean email inbox about once every five years, I found it interesting that the topic of student email usage was on the agenda of our recent high school leadership meeting. The focus of this brief conversation concentrated on these questions.



How can we get students to utilize their school email account better? Should we be teaching students how to communicate with email?When and where should email usage skills be taught? Who's responsibility is this?Why do we want kids to check their email? Those around the conference room table agreed with the importance of students checking their email to stay informed about upcoming events and opportunities. Others mentioned it as being an important part of "digital executive functioning." Time was running short when someone said, "Kids don't use email."

This brief statement sent my mind scurrying in several simultaneous directions. 

First, thinking …

What is the Secret Sauce of School Change?

"There's an assumption that schools are for students' learning. Well, why aren't they just as much for teachers' learning?" - Seymour Sarason"I'm not asking you to change, I'm asking you to learn."
Missy Emler, Change School v3
Last Monday night and Cohort Three of Change.School was discussing change leadership and learning when Missy Emler dropped this gem on us from fifty thousand feet. Her follow-up comment was, "When people learn, people, systems, and organizations change." This simple, yet insightful commentary has been rattling around in my head for the past few days.

While mowing the front yard the following evening, I begin thinking about famous individuals who went through some form of transformation, historical figures, sports heroes, celebrities in pop culture. What preceded their conversion? All of the situations I could think of supported Missy's assertion, there was some kind of challenge, a period of reflection, pos…