A “New” Pay It Forward

This week I found myself feeling restless, irritated, and impatient. It seemed as though everywhere I turned, everywhere I went, someone was being disrespectful to someone, or something.

Although people in the church I’ve been attending are very friendly, the church itself is NOT a quiet and contemplative place on Sunday. Oh, I know the passage “Where two or more are gathered in my name….”  Still, I’m used to quiet and reverence upon entering a church.  Perhaps a friendly and talkative place is what a Sunday gathering is meant to be about and what many look forward to each week…but for me it was, and continues to be, disturbing.

Later in the week, I attended a conference. People not only made comments to each other during the presentations, but some actually carried on lengthy conversations! One of the ladies in charge noisily rearranged some things which certainly could have waited, and they even began setting up lunch while a speaker was still speaking. How rude!

When I listen to the news, one politician is slamming another, or a comedian is callously mocking something that happened recently. It becomes tiring. It becomes irritating. It makes me angry, and it makes me want to take a break from civilization. I’m sick of rudeness, and of this pervasive lack of respect almost everywhere I turn.

Time and again, lack of respect is a complaint I hear from prisoners. Just because they are behind bars, does not, I believe, give any one of us the right to degrade another human being.  Certainly, this disregard for another person can be blatant. It can also be exhibited in subtle ways. Sometimes we just don’t think. Most of us are guilty of falling somewhere in between. It is so easy to allow ourselves to participate in offhand gossip, often with no regard for a person’s reputation. Or, we are quick to anger and expletives pour forth as a driver cuts us off. Who hasn’t become inpatient with the person ahead of us in line who takes longer than we think he should?

I love the concept of “paying it forward.” Perhaps this week we can make an effort to respect those with whom we disagree, and to honor the dignity of persons we don’t like. Go ahead, call me a Polyanna, but yes, I’m tired of rudeness and meanness and disrespect. The media is capable of spreading negativity in so many ways. Maybe…just maybe…if enough of us try, we could become the next news item. We could begin a surge of POSITIVITY.

I think it’s worth a try. Don’t YOU? That sure would make for a much pleasanter world.

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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