Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit or Not, Manners Matter

I wonder how many other local bloggers work on a blog entry and then delete it? This is one I wrote tonight and considered deleting, it wouldn't have been the first time. I've always questioned why anyone wants to hear (or read) my opinion anyway? Who am I? Who cares what I think?

Here's a blog I wrote. I don't know if anyone will be interested in reading it or not. I don't know if it sounds like I'm preaching. I don't know if it will make someone mad or if it will make someone think and inspire them or if they'll read halfway through it and think, this is boring but, bloggers blog even when they have nothing to say. I think I had something to say tonight. You all can be the judge of whether it's of any value or not. Personally, I think I just like talking to myself most of the time anyway, working through my own thoughts. Anyway, read it if you want to. - Jackie

I would think it would take a lot of political experience to learn how to gracefully lose a hard fought campaign for an office, either at the local, state or federal level.

I'm thinking of how well Senator John McCain handled losing the Presidential election compared to how Senator John Kerry reacted to his loss in 2004. Kerry didn't make any huge blunders post election but, he didn't handle it with the same level of grace that McCain handled it.

I said it takes "political experience" when maybe, that isn't exactly true. I don't know, maybe it goes deeper than that. I just know that losing is something that people, if they are blessed, are taught to accept, it doesn't come naturally to be graceful when you've lost something. It's a learned reaction. Sort of like when we don't really like the meat loaf but we say, "that was delicious," anyway. It's just the polite thing, the right thing to do, even if it goes against the grain and even if it's a "little white lie."

One of the things that was discussed in my Sunday School class this morning was that people, often, don't send thank you notes anymore. One lady in my class even spoke up and said she'd attended a bridal shower where the bride-to-be didn't even know she was supposed to send thank you notes for the gifts she'd received. I've been to weddings and showers where I have taken a gift or enclosed money in a card and never received acknowledgement for the gift, myself.

As an anecdote, I've been working with some girls, they're all sisters, who ride the bus to our church. I know their Mom works on Sunday, I don't know about their Dad, I've only met him once but he seemed like a nice enough guy. But, anyway, I've been bringing a quarter, 50 cents in quarters, sometimes a dollar in quarters, and giving them to the girls to put in the offering plate. If I give them more than one quarter, I let them decide whether to put it all in the plate or keep a portion of it. It's given me an opportunity to talk to them about tithing but, something I didn't count on was the opportunity it afforded me to talk to them about being thankful for what they did get rather than asking for more. It seemed no matter how many quarters I gave them they wanted to know if I had more quarters, and if I did, could they have them? Anyway, Robin pointed out in Sunday School this morning that manners seem to have fallen by the wayside, not in all cases, but it might be true in the majority of cases.

Thanksgiving is behind us and we all, those of us who are Christians and believe in God and that good things come from Him, anyway, spent time thanking Him for the things we have been blessed with. I thank Him for ongoing blessings, today. Having a church to go to and grow. Having opportunities to serve Him, hopefully not just in church but beyond. Sweet little moments when gently, I can tell a child to say thank you for what they got and be grateful, rather than always asking for more and explaining that doesn't just go for when I give you a quarter, they should carry that with them whenever anyone, anywhere, gives them something. That simple thank you without the follow up of, "can I have more" that is known as having good manners is an important lesson in our society. In a day of made-in-China-throw-away-toys, some children aren't taught that anymore and instead of complaining about bad parenting maybe we could create or craft little moments in their lives to give them those messages they might not be receiving at home. Just a thought.

Anyway, back to losing elections. I'm feeling generous, I think I have a weakness for that, when it comes to human failure. You see, I've failed a lot, at a lot of things. When it comes to losing gracefully, sometimes it's hard to say the right thing when your heart is telling you something else. Grace is when you do it anyway, when you say the right thing even though your heart is, maybe, screaming a different tale.

During the course of some of the local campaigns I noticed some unseemliness going on between this one and that one which caused me to stop and think about how difficult it is not to argue. I know I have a difficult time when I think I'm right and someone else is wrong not to "straighten them out," on the error of their ways, we all think we're the right one, don't we? Candidates for office have to be careful in their reactions.

You know, I think there once was a day when we all were more careful about our reactions. Certainly, there is something to be said for being out in the open, for sharing our opinion but, people used to talk about how to share opinions, that they should be shared gently, with kindness and love. Christians sometimes talk about doing that in the Church, about offering correction to a brother or sister in Christ with love as the motive, in gentleness and in kindness. Someone, I think, brought that up in Sunday School this morning too, because we were talking about how Christians show they are different. It was discussed that might be an excellent area to show that Christians are different, by showing kindness when we lose or are angry and have no reason to show kindness. I'm thinking it might even be more important to show kindness when we win.

Compassion was another word discussed in my Sunday School class. There could be more compassion for losers, in my opinion. No one likes to lose, and I'd think that someone who has opened their lives to total scrutiny, put their political philosophy and ideology on the line for all to see and often spent a lot of their own money on their campaigns, only to be rejected, might be deserving of a bit more compassion. Sometimes they might not react and respond with grace, sometimes maybe they could have spent a little more time in retrospection before they wrote that hot-headed letter to the editor of a local paper.

I can't help but wonder how I'd have reacted.

James 3:2; 7-12:

2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

There's a lot to say for that old cliche, "Walk A Mile In My Shoes."



Rye and the plumber said...

Beatty was a major victim of negative campaigning. So was Hagan.

But, as my brother said when he kissed the pig, opinions are like noses, everyone won't get fooled again and you get what you pay for.

But the republicans don't do negative campaigns so I may be wrong

Jackie Melton said...

I'm not really looking for an argument about Cooper's column but I'm not sure "republicans don't do negative campaigns" is exactly what Ryan Cooper wrote, for the record.

At the end of Cooper's post:

"Negative campaigning has existed since the beginning of American elections. Conservatives should not shy away from using it as long as the information is reliable and relevant."

Cooper writes a column titled, "From the Right" so, we should expect a perspective from the right side of the aisle when reading it. If he was from the center, perhaps he could have added Liberals should not shy away from using it (negative campaigning) as long as the information is reliable and relevant, too.

...and, fortunately for you, you get what you pay for here, too.


tom said...

"I just know that losing is something that people, if they are blessed, are taught to accept, it doesn't come naturally to be graceful when you've lost something."

This statement I found quite compelling as I wonder have we become *trained* to accept nothing but the best and act like nothing else matters when it is done ?

Have we become such a shallow society that *I* must win all the time or somehow my competitor cheated ?

In sales we learned you'll be told more often then not *NO* , we also became accustomed and rightfully so that the reason the people said (NO?) was because the sales representative didn't explain the program properly. In essence we have learned to accept defeat by taking the knowledge that we didn't perform at a level needed to get what we were in search of which was the *YES*

Why wouldn't any individual want to invest in a product which pays for itself, creates a better environment, an allows the homeowner a 60% reduction in cleaning time. On top of that after the device pays for itself you can reap dividends off of it the rest of your life ? The mindset is the people have somehow gone negative or have cheated.

Face it we have become a *labelist* society and if you don't agree with the mindset of others 100% you will be labeled as someone on the fringe in some sort of movement. Listen to talk radio on any given day and you'll see President elect Obama is going to pass the Fairness Doctrine or raise our taxes 35% or some other outlandish thing of which he has NO power to do. Congress controls the purse strings of this nation not the President.

We teach children from an early age that victory at all cost is the name of the game, why else do so many idolize pro athletes?

If in a political race you point out the flaws of your opponent while highlighting where you differ, somehow that has become negative campaigning ?

In speaking of Burlison vs Beatty race for state representative I have yet to see anyone point out any statement which on face value was or is inaccurate. But once more the argument comes back to *labels* and how we all get defined by others.

Angel said...

Good post, Jackie!

Manners are one of those things that seems to be a dying art. My 10 year old won the Queen of Manners crown three years in a row at her school and I could not get over how many times the teachers congratulated me for her manners. They said it was so hard to get children to use their manners, when they weren't being taught them at home.

I agree with you on the class Senator McCain showed on election night ... and since. I thought Kerry did a pretty good job too, especially considering how nasty that election became, but McCain really did shine.

I know what you mean about making posts and then deleting them. I do it all the time ... at least a couple of times a week. I am always censoring myself and we should, to an extent. But, I think we can do so too much too. :)

Jackie Melton said...

"Have we become such a shallow society that *I* must win all the time or somehow my competitor cheated ?"

Tom, or you might ask, have we become such a shallow society that it is so important that *I* must be the first in the door of the Walmart store to get that thing on black Friday that I am willing to trample and kill people to do it?

If I didn't give a good enough example of why teaching and practicing good manners and compassion is important that should be a stark reminder.

Christians are taught to put others first. I used to teach kids "JOY" - Jesus first; Others second; You last, if we practice that it's supposed to bring us joy. I'll have to say anytime I've practiced that philosophy I've had joy, although, I'll admit, I don't practice it enough.

Angel, GOOD for you that you are teaching your kids manners. Maybe we should clone ya! ;)

Angel said...

Ahhh, teaching them manners is the easy part. Getting them to continue to use in their teenage years ... when they know everything and are so much smarter than the average bear ... is quite another! LOL I am sure there are teachers out there now that think that I haven't taught them a lick of manners, sense, or respect for authority the way they behave sometimes.

Sad, but unfortunately too true. *sigh*

Same with your comment about Black Friday and what happened at that Wal-Mart. It is hard to believe we can act no better than wild animals in the pursuit of getting something cheap. I don't shop on Black Friday and never have. I am not about to have people shoving me, hitting me, or jerking things from my hands just because they think that is the one day of the year when they can act as ugly as they want to.