Courtesy- So much more than please and thank you
Courtesy is the appropriate response to others.
It is how we see the world and all that is in it with right-vision.
Are you being rude and you do not know it?
How can we see each other the way God sees? At morning prayer, we are talking about the virtue of courtesy. It is a good one to help us see. We spent some time turning and looking at each other with our eyes wide open. What color are your friend’s eyes? Do they look happy or sad today? Then I asked the students to give each other a compliment. The energy in the hallway is full of kindness and happy talking during this exercise. It is so fun. We are being courteous to each other and it is good to see people. We are feeling very courteous. But the next day, I asked some harder questions about courtesy. Do you always listen when your teacher is talking? Do you apologize when you are late? Do you enter your classroom quietly or are you respectful of the other students while you are in the hallway? Do you say mean things about people? These questions point out that It can be difficult to feel courteous. Do you make a mess at lunch? Do you talk back to your parents? It is easier to be rude than we thought. It might be time to take a closer look at how courteousness can make everything better.
Why does our behavior matter? What difference does it make? Courtesy is more about feelings than actions. It feels so good to take care of ourselves and to take care of others. The other day I was late, and I had to make a quick stop at the store to buy some necessities. The person in front of me asked if I would like to go ahead of them because they were in no hurry. We were, in that moment, kindred spirits. Connected in an unconnected world. I felt seen, understood, helped and deserving, all in that one simple gesture. How lovely! That is why courtesy is so powerful!
Courtesy allows us to see the divine in the mundane. Courtesy allows us to feel enlightened instead of selfishly dim. Courtesy fills our heart with compassion instead of anger or judgement.
We will be teaching and expecting courtesy from our students all year. It is a virtue that can be used with a stranger and with family and friends. We are pretty excited about the feelings we will get when we put courtesy in practice. Being close to God feels good and we are ready to spread it around!
Anne Atkin, principal