By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Recently an expert in neurobehavioral psychology told me that we all are under more stress than we may realize. Continual bad news about the pandemic, the economy, and racial unrest has us on edge. Some of us are in real trouble to one degree or another. For the rest of us, trouble is coming. In a relatively short time too much has happened and tomorrow could easily bring on more.
I’m not trying to instill any more fear. We have more than enough. What I want to encourage is more civility, more kindness, more restraint. I heard a report from a hair salon proprietor in Georgia. He re-opened as soon as he could. Otherwise, his business would certainly fail and his employees would be out of work. He is using all of the precautions for all of the right reasons. He particularly cited not wanting to take the virus home to his children. And, all of his employees have children at home. His business is hanging on, if another shutdown is avoided. He does have a particular problem though. Some of his clients are rude about not wearing a mask and basic distancing. He said these folk are downright mean, loud, and “political.” His words. He must insist that they wait outside if they want service. Often, he is afraid.
My wife was on the phone a couple of days ago re-arranging a medical appointment and seeking critical advice from her physician or his staff. After a series of robotic acrobatics, the real person with whom she was finally speaking was very helpful, which led to some friendly exchanges. As my wife was saying goodbye, this phone worker profusely thanked her for being a friendly voice and appreciating her and showing some casual kindness.
She went on to say that too many clients had become rude and demanding over the past month. Her voice cracked with emotion. Later my wife wondered if she was working from home with miserable children and aging parents or both. Whatever the case, this person was clinging to civility in a sea of meanness.
Perhaps we need to acknowledge the stresses we are under and realize that basic civility and kindness often go wanting in hard times. I also believe that empathy erodes when we become very self-concerned in our fear. Self-concern is not exactly self-centeredness. It comes from worry moreso than selfishness. Self-concern forgets to be kind. For most of us, it only takes a couple of kind words and civil actions a day to make us want to carry on. Likewise, for most of us, a steady stream of negativity and polarizing barbs can make us despair of life. A majority of our media voices and all of our political leaders could do us real good with more civility, kindness, and restraint. If I were their teacher, I would put them all in detention, until they could learn to act better. They are making all of us meaner than our raising.
Now, a passing reminder: Restrain your fears and worries; refine their grim energies into kindness; and at least be civil. I believe that will please God much more than any opinion you have. Any opinion.