A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Uncommon courtesy

Something has been at the edge of my conscious thoughts the last little while. The lack of common courtesy towards our fellow beings. It clicked today, after a lady thanked me for holding the door open as I was leaving a downtown building. As I usually I glanced behind and didn’t see anyone right behind me, so let the door start to swing closed. Just after I let go i noticed a lady with shopping bags in one hand, and the other balancing a tray of take out beverages. So I stopped and stepped back to open the door for her, yes I’m old enough to know my manners, even if I sometimes don’t display them. She thanked me, and as we waited for the light to cross, she commented on how seldom that happens anymore, holding the door for a moment for a stranger. After chatting for a moment we went our individual ways, but the thought that had been at the edge of my conscious thinking was out, lack of courtesy or respect for each other. Walking down a large pedestrian friendly sidewalk, one that wide enough for several, I encountered a large group of young people going the opposite direction. With their group of about 15 or so, they were taking up the entire width of the sidewalk, people going the opposite direction were having to step onto the street to get past. The reason I mention this, one of the girls was wearing a t-shirt with Christ‘s picture, one of the boy’s a shirt with the image of the Buddha. Both of these teachers taught respect for others, to treat others as you want to be treated, yet here this group was taking up the entire width of the sidewalk, as if only they mattered.

When did we lose the compassion to share, even something as simple as a sidewalk? Is it any wonder that we don’t respect the environment, or our neighbours. Perhaps it’s my generation that is to blame, for not passing along the lessons of common courtesy. Or maybe it’s the media, movies and videos that show people doing what they want and not having to care about others. I don’t watch music video’s often, but a few weeks ago one was on the news. It showed a young singer, dancing and singing, while using the opposite sex, as toys to be enjoyed and discarded. This video was in the top ten worldwide in views.

I think we need to start practicing the basic courtesies again, helping the elderly, holding a door for a stranger, not honking the car horn as soon as the light turns green, stopping to help that lost cat or dog, at the side of a busy road and shivering with fear, and all those other little things that remind us, all life is precious. Perhaps if we start on the small ways of showing loving compassion, we can learn the larger ones. So for today the song I am listening to is from over forty years ago What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

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One thought on “Uncommon courtesy

  1. One of my favorite songs, playing in the background as we ponder where the most fundamental acts of grace have gone…I’m with you – if we practice the smaller acts of humanity and kindness, the larger ones will occur. Like a pebble in the water, maybe it will just expand the circle. A wonderful thought for a wonderful world..

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