Archive for category Christian Civility

Smile – Speak – Respect

According to the CDC I am no longer a senior citizen. I am an elder. Likewise I am no longer a father I am a parent. The CDC should know that I am proud of being Suzanne’s and Michael’s father. The CDC is correct in emphasizing how we talk to and about each other. A critical article about this report was reprinted from by The Week Magazine in its September 10/September17, 2021 issue. The article by Tiana Lowe is wrong headed.

In his sermon at the French Huguenot Church in Charleston on September 5, 2021, The Rev. Phil Bryant emphasized the power of words. “Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can challenge. Words can direct what we do. In all the ways we interact with one another, our words are the most powerful. Words can kill.”

In support of the last statement, Bryant quotes Chaplain David Sparks at Dover Air Force Base, who has comforted so many families over the past 20 years, because a family member has sacrificed her or his life after the 9/11 attack. “I am aware — this is very spiritual — I am aware that there are — there have been multiple times when I did not have the preparation for a particular moment when words came up out of me that were not my own. And I said them. And once in a while, it was — for the first time — I heard it the first time when it came around in my own ear. And where in the world did that come from? And those are very holy moments for me.”

Every report states that our culture has become meaner, Part of the blame for this regression is rooted in how we talk to and about each other. Because I disagree with you does not mean that I hate you or think that you are a lesser person. It simply means that you and I see an issue differently. I love my sister and she would walk through hot coals barefoot for me, but we have different ideas about politics, church music and biscuits.  We grew up together with the same parents, but we look at the world differently.

I do not know why we have grown meaner as a culture; however, I do know how to lessen the impact of the meanness. Smile at the people you meet. Say something nice to each person. Treat each person you meet with respect. That’s it. Try it for yourself.

  1. Smile at each person you meet.
  2. Say something nice to each person you meet.
  3. Show respect for each person you meet.

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How Simple Acts Can Counter Meanness

by Mitch Carnell | Aug 30, 2021 | Feature-, Opinion

“Hurry up,” an agitated man in the cafeteria checkout line kept mumbling.
My friend Bob, a very gentle soul, turned to him and said, “Take it easy. You’ll live longer.”
I thought they were friends and that this was friendly banter. Instead, the man followed him into the parking lot and wanted to fight.
“Why have we become so mean?” I wondered.
This topic is discussed frequently in the mainstream media and on social media. Numerous reasons are put forward.
Take your pick on the causes: the pandemic, wearing a mask, isolation, loss of paychecks, loss of identity, loss of control, conspiracy theories, the list could go on.
I readily admit that I do not know precisely what is contributing to this mean behavior; however, I do know how to lessen the severity of the problem and return us to our more genial demeanor.
The solution is simple, and everyone can participate.
Smile at people and speak to them in a friendly manner. If you are not ready to practice both, then just smile at those you meet.
My late wife suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. She no longer could speak, but her smile was enough to carry me through the darkest day.
Yes, I missed her cheerful words, but her smile lit my world. It drove the dark clouds away and put me in a much better place.
Try it. You have nothing to lose. A smile has wonderful powers. It can drive the blues away and sweeten the sourest disposition.
When you are ready, take the next step. Add a simple greeting. “Hello. I’m glad to see you,” or “How have you been?” or, “Hi, my name is…”
When I was the CEO of a non-profit agency, the president of the board of directors endeared himself to everyone. He never made you fumble for his name. “Hello, I’m John Smith,” he greeted you with an outstretched hand and a smile.
In many Christian churches, the service includes passing the peace. Other congregations practice extending the right hand of fellowship.
Both practices are rooted in Scripture. Both convey a message of peace and welcome. A handshake carries the same message.
The Say Something Nice Day (June 1) and Say Something Nice Sunday (the first Sunday in June) movements share the same motives to break down barriers and create a friendlier environment.
I like to speak to everyone I encounter. My children, when they became teenagers, were embarrassed by my behavior. They chastised me, “Daddy, do you know that person? Then, why did you speak to them?”
My answer, “Why not? Why not acknowledge another human being?”
Every person we meet is struggling with something. We do not know the anguish of the people we pass.
Some are suffering from deep wounds or are enduring hurts from long ago. Some have just lost a job or a spouse.
The simple action of a smile or greeting can change their day. As my mother often said, “Son, be nice.”
It is within our power to change things one interaction at a time. We can behave in such a way that others want to be around us.
No sermon is required. Our behavior is sermon enough.
We may not always know the right words to say or be in the mood to speak to others. If this is the case, just smile.
There may be a few who will ignore or ridicule you but smile anyway.

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It’s Not a Good Trade

When I was a young boy, we traveled more than a 100 miles in an un-air-conditioned car in the South Carolina summer heat to visit my widowed grandmother. Instead of the expected words of welcome she said, “Be quiet. ‘The Guiding Light,’ is on.” She traded time with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for an imaginary family.

My daughter from out-of-state is here this week to celebrate her birthday. We will celebrate at dinner with her brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. We postponed the celebration a day so that her nephew could be present. I am grateful for this opportunity to be together. Who is missing? Her mother, who is with her ancestors, but very much in our hearts.

The moral of this story. Don’t squander the time you have with family and friends by being on your cell phone or scrolling through Facebook. The incident with my grandmother occurred decades ago. I remember it as though it happened this morning. We may think that we have all the time in the world. We don’t. We have this moment. It will not come again.

I am not being morbid. I am offering a simple statement of fact. Do not swap what you have for an episode of, ‘The Guiding Light.’

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Insurrectionists assault people: True patriots give themselves in humility

FROM THE EDITOR – Mark Wingfield – -July 30, 2021
On Christmas Eve 1944, Carl McKeever, age 19, found himself crossing the English Channel aboard the HMS Cheshire, a British cruise ship that had been repurposed as a troop transport ship to help with the war effort. The Cheshire steamed alongside a larger ship, the SS Leopoldville, escorted by a flank of four destroyers. Just 5 miles offshore from Cherbourg, France, the SS Leopoldville was torpedoed by a German U-boat.

On that afternoon, 762 soldiers and officers were lost, despite rescue efforts by those on the Cheshire and the accompanying destroyers. Other ships in Cherbourg harbor were not able to come to the rescue quickly because their crews were ashore celebrating the holiday. This was the beginning of my friend’s overseas military service in World War II, and it no doubt shaped the rest of his life.

According to some accounts, Carl and the other soldiers of the 66th Infantry Division were ordered not to tell anyone about the sinking of the ship, and their letters home were censored by the Army during the rest of World War II. After the war, the soldiers reportedly were ordered not to talk about the sinking of the SS Leopoldville or their GI benefits as civilians would be canceled.

Carl abided by that policy for more than 60 years, never speaking much of his military service even to family until just a couple of years before his death, when the grandchildren began digging and asking insistent questions. And then his son, Dan, convinced Carl to participate in an Honor Flight, which took them to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other sites.

Just a couple of weeks before his death, I stood in Carl’s hospital room and listened to him tell with pride the story of that Honor Flight. He talked about how moving the World War II Memorial was, how he thought it was the most spectacular of all the war memorials on the National Mall. But the thing that most impressed him at age 90 was the people who lined the walkways to cheer for him and the other veterans on the Honor Flight as they came and went. He was moved to know that people remembered, that people cared, that people were grateful.

At the Memorial, on the 84-foot-wide Freedom Wall, Carl saw the beautiful field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars that represent the 400,000 Americans who gave their lives in the war. In front of this wall are engraved these words: “HERE WE MARK THE PRICE OF FREEDOM.”

Dan had to do some fast talking to get Carl to agree to go on the Honor Flight. Carl was concerned that he was not important enough to receive such an honor. After all, he had been only a private first class in rank. Surely there were more worthy people than he to be honored.

The Honor Flight staff assured Carl that he was, in fact, worthy of recognition because the war had been won by the efforts of men and women of all ranks. It was on the backs of PFCs like him that the 66th Division Panthers guarded the German submarine base pockets that were left after the D-Day invasion and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. And it was PFCs like Carl who kept the peace after the war in Germany and Austria.

Carl’s been gone from us four years now, and just two weeks ago I presided over the burial of his beloved wife, Velma. But I thought about Carl’s story this week as I listened to the heart-wrenching testimony of the four officers who served — and were attacked by insurrectionists — at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

One of the most disgusting things to hear in this testimony — and there were plenty of unbelievable disgraces these police officers endured — was how the foul-mouthed, racist and unhinged insurrectionists called themselves both “patriots” and “Christians.”

To be clear: They were neither.

There is nothing patriotic or Christian about participating in a violent insurrection against the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a presidential election, kidnap or kill members of Congress and the vice president of the United States — all while hurling racial slurs at the non-white police doing their true patriotic duty.

To compare the fools who stormed the U.S. Capitol to true patriots like my friend Carl McKeever, who served his country on a true battlefield, is to besmirch the very word “patriot.”

Our columnist Michael Chancellor spelled this out in clear terms with his column this week. I urge you to read his piece, “If You Really Respect Law Enforcement, Don’t Obstruct, Obfuscate, Object and Misdirect on Jan. 6.”

True patriots like my friend Carl give themselves in humility because they love country more than self. Insurrectionists seek to elevate themselves and their cause out of self-interest and self-protection.

True Christians like my friend Carl seek to serve and protect those who are not like themselves but who are beloved children of God. They fight against any who would exclude or humiliate others based on skin color or nationality or gender or religion. Insurrectionists assault people who are not like them and only want power for themselves.

There are not “good people” on both sides of this question. There are true patriots, and there are violent insurrectionists. There are Christ-like Christians, and there are white Christian nationalists. We’ve got to be clear in pointing out the difference.


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