If you let people take you where you don’t want to be, you deserve to be there. I tell my students they are responsible for change.
This eureka moment came when two isolated situations converged, much as our lives do. One was in the movie theater; in the other, I was reading a book. That’s the interesting thing about the truth. It will find you no matter where you are.
In his book “Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World,” Max Lucado cites a situation where a father told a little boy he knew the answer to his son’s problem. His son was trying to unearth a root for wood, but the task was too difficult because, as his father pointed out, the little boy didn’t use all his strength. His father was standing there, willing to help, but the boy hadn’t asked.
That’s us. We struggle daily to resolve issues members of our family can resolve; someone in the next cubicle can solve; teachers can answer if only asked. Somehow in the spiraling out of control, we forget civility and neighborliness, suffering behind the garage doors of our inner sanctums and computer screens of indifference. If our country is going to hell in a handbasket, some of the trimmings are being placed there by each of us. Simply because we are so full of hubris and self-righteous indignation, we can’t see the trees for our own forest.
“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is a movie I’d recommend for various reasons, but one in particular. While addressing a group, Israel asks why there are women standing and men sitting. He asks some of the young men to get up so the women can sit down. The women refuse. One woman says she didn’t want her humanity desecrated by his nihilistic view of women, but has no retort to Mr. Israel’s answer, “It’s polite.”
Every day I see the same lack of acceptance in our society, in our world, in our home. Politeness is almost prehistoric. Our sons don’t see us do it. Our daughters think it’s old fashioned. Caught up in the hysteria of “me-tooism” and “all lives matter,” we forget how we got down this rabbit hole, and most of us have no idea how to climb out, or keep our children from a similar path.
But we do. We have the power. We can use all our strength. Our strength lies in our resolve to not go the same path. Our strength lies in our resolve not to be one who comments on what’s going on in Hollywood or Alabama, but hold our elected officials to a standard they swore to uphold, a constitution that still yields greatness.
Our true strength lies in our resolve to be polite, because it’s right; because we are responsible for the change future generations will inherit, and if we let ourselves go somewhere we don’t want to be, we deserve to be there.
Archie R. Wortham, Ph.D, is a professor of speech at Northeast Lakeview College.