With Utmost Courtesy
I was a Boy Scout for a good portion of my youth. I eventually left scouting because of my love for music and needing to make decisions and priorities for my life. There were things about scouting that I loved…and some that I did not. But to this day, I remember key lessons from scouting which are summarized in the Scout Law:
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
This law came to mind this week in large part because I have noticed so much conversation that is the opposite of these 12 characteristics. And that is putting it mildly. Folks are arguing about everything these days in such non-constructive ways. Every person has an opinion that is right beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the rest of the world is living wrong and to be scolded and condemned.
I really do not want to get particular about any conversation I have heard, witnessed, watched on TV or read on social media. But I do want to remind us all to consider deeply how we talk about what we believe and the way we live. Sacred texts have plenty to say about how we should engage others, beginning first and foremost with loving one another.
This week there is a great passage from 1 Peter that is particularly appropriate for such a time as this:
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. (1 Peter 3:15-16, The Message)
When you talk about why you live the way you live, always do so with the utmost courtesy. What a simple and yet significant reminder. A little courtesy goes a long way, doesn’t it? Well, the folks who put courteous in the Scout Law thought so. Here is how the 1990s edition of the Boy Scout Handbook described courtesy:
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
Be polite…regardless of age or position. Yep. Manners make it easier for folks to get along. Sounds about right.
I wonder if we have forgotten such simple truths in an age where its common practice to rant about the way people live, the way others parent their children, the way some folks dress or the music they listen to…or whatever else does not fit with one’s own way of life.
1 Peter reminds us to always be courteous, polite, respectful and use our manners when speaking about the way we live. You never know when you will be the one that someone lobs an unkind remark towards. And none of us want that kind of dirt to stick.
So be courteous. Come to think of it, be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brace, clean, and reverent, too.
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