Monday, May 5, 2008

This post has nothing to do with the photo

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I read with interest yesterday an article by Mary Otto of the Washington Post in our Sunday paper. I was intrigued because the headline (is that what you call them if they are not on the front page?) was Civilization Craving Civility. How you could pass that up? I just spent 2 weeks in a strange hospital environment with people forced to be together that would never in a million years think to seek each other out. Waiting rooms and hallways and even the cafeteria. I saw lots of opportunities for civility that went by the way side. And after my experience up close and personal with so much of humanity in a concentrated space and time at the State Fair last fall, I am very aware of the lack of civility in my community. And the apparent lack of concern that there is no civility.

So I read on to find out that a professor at Johns Hopkins, Pier Massimo Forni, has written a book called “Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct.” Well, there's the problem. 25 rules? I thought that the sign we found on the wall in a bar in Texas years ago pretty much covered everything. It said “Be Nice or Leave.” But no, it seems there are 25 rules to being nice. I read on.

The rules are good,I thought, nothing too hard or should I say shouldn't be too hard. (1.) Pay attention. I like that one. It seems important to pay attention to where you are (like the guy who forgot he was on the bus and spit on the floor argh!!!) and who you are with and what they are saying( or in my case who the email is going to...) But some of the rules I have a little trouble understanding in the grand scheme of things. (17.) Assert yourself. I need more explanation with this one, especially since #18 is Avoid personal questions.

I do need to read the book, but from just the list, it seems like civility is reserved for strangers and not close personal friends. Aren't we supposed to be civil to our friends? Many could apply to friendships, but how do you make grow a friendship if you follow (12.) Be agreeable (always? Too hard for me) or (23.) Accept and give constructive criticism. You can do that with someone you can't ask personal questions of and must be agreeable around? I don't have that skill at all. So how do you do that? Be agreeable and try to work through differences? Try to be assertive and still be agreeable. I think I really have a problem with that be agreeable one, huh? He does say he is a “flawed messenger bearing a good message.” I respect him for that and will try to read the book. Maybe I should carry them around for awhile and pay attention to how I act around both strangers and my friends before I give constructive criticism to the author? I still think “Be Nice or Leave” pretty much covers it.



PS: the photo? My first attempt with my new toy, a Pop 9 lomography camera I bought in Denver is a fit of retail therapy.

2 comments:

Paula Scott said...

I agree..."Be Nice Or Leave" really does cover it all! That list he has is full of contradictions!
Loved the photo! I assume that it is film and not digital? Reminds me of my cheap little quad camera.

Stephanie said...

Sounds interesting, I have these issues with not only friends and acquaintences but..family....I try, really to try to tell myself, this is how they are, I will just be civil...

anyway, we do what we can and in the end, yes I agee, be nice or leave...