Bread and Butter and Civility

There are many basics in life that we cannot live without—food, water, sleep. All critical to keep functioning. But not listed is another staple of importance. Civility.

When I was a kid I was made to write thank you notes—to Aunt Wilma for the pretty necklace, to Great Aunt Sylvia for the knitted knee-hi socks (even if they resided in the back of my closet), and to my homeroom teachers at the end of the school year. It wasn’t just an exercise in writing or to teach me good manners, it was the foundation of creating civility. It was the bread and butter of who my mother hoped I would come to be.

Today I still like to write letters and thank you notes are among those that I take most seriously. When I receive one, I find reassurance that civility has not been abandoned. Of course, there is a lot more to civility than just writing thank you notes.

Civility happens when we place the desire for peace and kindness toward others above our own self interest. It happens when we hold the door for someone. It happens when we do not honk at the car slow to move when the light turns green. It happens when we say thank you—to check out clerk, the garbage collector, the IRS agent.

What happens when we practice civility in our actions is the awareness we gain in knowing we really are all connected on some level. We all want the basics in life—the bread and butter of our society.

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