it’s time to be civil (11)


2. Acknowledge others. ‘Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.’ (George Washington)

“Acknowledge others’ existence, their importance to you, their feelings, and the things they do for you. Acknowledgement comes in many forms: remembering someone’s name, paying a thoughtful compliment, summarizing what was just said for a newcomer to the conversation, holding a door open to let someone through, welcoming, thanking, and just plain saying hello. …

“… yet we often play the game of invisibility. We see someone we know coming our way, but instead of saying hello or even just nodding our acknowledgment, we proceed as if that someone were invisible or we weren’t there. Is a glimmer of acknowledgment in a fleeting encounter so burdensome? Are we shy? Are we lazy? Are we prey to misguided pride? Are we so goal-directed that we won’t bother with anything that doesn’t advance our progress toward our goal, whatever that might be? Are our souls shrinking beyond repair?

“We can’t feel gregarious every moment of our lives. At times we will be turned inward, unavailable to others, protective of our space and frame of mind. And that’s all right. Sometimes we need that to recharge, after the great expenditures of physical and nervous energy required by today’s life. We can, however, do without the invisibility game. It is insincere and petty. Let’s at least nod each other into existence. And let’s not play another game, either, that of waiting to be acknowledged before acknowledging in turn.”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 41,42-43

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