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Pontificating with pertinent P words
by Beth Boswell Jacks

"He who sows courtesy reaps friendship." ~ St. Basil


Okay, so I don't know who St. Basil was (I'm assuming he "was" and no longer "is") but those six words above convince me the sainted fellow understands well the way the world of civility goes 'round. It's an extension of the Golden Rule, methinks: Do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and as a result we'll collect a host of dear friends who will enrich our lives.

Simply put, be nice. Most of us learned that early on, but seems I keep forgetting and too often find myself acting bitter and grumpy. I don't get it. What don't I understand about "Nobody likes a grouch"?

Son Tom told hubby G-Man and me about a sermon his minister preached -- a "P Sermon," the preacher called it, citing certain adjectives that begin with P as guides for happy, productive lives. Two of the words Tom remembered were "polite" and "positive." Recalling that conversation was what led me to St. Basil and set me to thinking in a pontificating mood.

Wonder why some folks, including me, seem to think freedom of speech means we have license to be provoking? Disagreeing and debating in a civil, respectful manner is far different from blasting others verbally with peevish, petulant and profane language.

G-Man has tried to teach me that one can stand firm on convictions and beliefs and still be polite. A delicate balance, it is, but if we can't do it and want to keep our pals, then it's better to hush. Read more. Think more. Pray more. Count to ten. There are ways to stall rash behavior. Better to pinch the tongue than later to be forced to eat the words, or so the old saying (kind of) goes.

That covers the virtues of being polite, but what about "positive"?

Think about it. How long do we maintain friendships with people who are always complaining? Not long, unless we're suckers for abuse. Get a clue, fussy me and ye. We should pay attention when our circle of friends begins to shrink.

Yep, I'm mainly talking to myself. You who consider me a sweet, mealy mouthed, pleasant sort don't know me well. I'll try to slay a dragon with a toothpick if I think I'm right, and I've got a lot of my daddy in me. What's fair is fair. What's just is just. What's stupid is . . . no, strike that.

Face it, every issue -- political, religious, whatever -- has two sides and a middle. There are those who disagree, but this wacky world, in my opinion, is loaded with gray; not everything is black and white. Good people make judgments and form opinions in a thousand ways ranging from experiences and personality quirks to influences from family, friends, church, books, newspapers, television, you name it.

The trick is to support our views positively and politely without, in so many words, calling others idiots. (That we can do in private. Just kidding.)

And then there's this about being positive and polite: Sometimes that just means overlooking someone else's lapse in showing good manners. This I find most difficult, but G-Man assures me I'll be able to do it when I grow up.

I'm determined to work on my P words, good ones like patient, peaceful, perceptive, pardoning, philanthropic, prepared and plucky. I'll try to eliminate bad P words like pushy, prejudiced, prideful, pretentious, pious, phony and paranoid. And let's not even discuss prudish and plump.

Join me, P word lovers. Let's persevere. As the bumper sticker says, "Don't be dog tired at night 'cause you've growled all day."

Let's be like the little glow worm described by an anonymous poet:

"I wish I were a glow worm
A glow worm's never glum.
'Cause how can I be grumpy
When the sun shines out my bum?"



For more SNIPPETS stories, read these:
Chix in the Stix
Land of Nod Notes
Rabbit, Rabbit...
Spring Cleaning ~ Here We Go 'Round In Circles
Conquering the Wild Blue Yonder
Trail rides, cantles and beans...Hellooo, Mama!
A Towel Piece ~ A Tribute
Ben Skelton: Peace Corps Volunteer
Smiles, Not Fists...
Dance ~ the Soul's Hidden Language
Class Reunion Advice
Searching for the Inner Animal
It Was a Dark and Stormy... you know
Granny Does the Shoshone
Forget Your Troubles ~ C'mon, Get Older!
How to Eat Crawdads

For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
And find even more here: MORE SNIPPETS

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