Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Be a Good Human

Hidden away in a dark and often snarky corner toward the back of my brain, I keep a list.  Actually  I keep several of them there.  I’m going to tell you about one of them today… the one about human behaviors that just need to be ripped from the planet to make all of human-kind better.  My list comes from many places.  Some I’ve smirked about reading on Facebook and other blogs as people there complained about something unstellar someone had done in their presence.  Many I’ve witnessed myself.  Most, if you stop and think about it (which apparently a vast number of fellow inhabitants of the planet don’t) should be obvious rules for being a good human.
  • Don’t spit your gum (or tobacco chew or a loogie) where everyone walks.  Why should be self-explanatory to anyone who has 2 brain cells that still rub together. 
  • If you find something that doesn’t belong to you, turn it in.  It isn’t a gift.  The owner is probably looking for it.  Do unto others... and all that.
  • When you are walking along in a big crowd, don’t fart just because no one else will know it’s you.
  • Pajamas are not appropriate even for a Walmart run.  Go out in public looking and acting your best and give others a reason to be impressed with what you’ve made of yourself.
  •  Be slow to judge.  My best might be radically different than your best due to circumstances I can’t control.  A little understanding will do more than all the condemnation that can be mutually dished out.
  • When your dog takes a crap, clean it up ASAP.  Stepping in someone else’s dog’s pile of doodoo is far from a happy moment and even farther from anything that might even slightly resemble a flattering thought about the dog's owner.
  • When you knock stuff off store shelves bend yourself over, pick it up and put it back where it belongs.  Most 2-year-olds have mastered this life skill.  Surely you haven't forgotten how?
  • When a grown person smiles at your baby, it doesn’t mean they are a pedophile.  People like babies and, generally, people are nice.  Maybe you can show that you’re nice, too, and assume the positive?
  • Take an occasional sniff at your pits.  If you can smell them, you can bet your last dollar so can everyone else!  And a bath is what's called for... dabbing some perfume on it only makes it smell worse.
  • People go to dance clubs to dance, not be felt up by strangers. Keep your hands where you know they are welcome and don’t assume every girl (or guy) there wants you to rub her (or his) backside. 
  • If you receive a gift, say thank you.  No words inspire future kindnesses better.  Seriously... magic words!
  • People who are old, injured or ill need the seat so move your able body and give it up to them.  It's not just respectful; sometimes it's a matter of matter of health and safety.
  • Just because it feels anonymous, don’t think you’ll get away with being a jerk on the internet.  Electronic Karma is a bitch, too!
  • It's really appreciated when your kids publicly show that you've taught them good manners.  When they run wild, bang into our legs, break toys, throw tantrums and call you vile names in the checkout line, it's a terribly shocking and uncomfortable situation for the rest of us even if you can bring yourself to overlook it.
  • On the flip side, don't you ever hit or curse at or otherwise abuse your child.  If I see it, odds are my good manners will slip as my fist meets your face in an attempt to lay you out like a rotting carcass on the streets of some battle-torn third-world city.
  • When a person you've disagreed with proves themselves to be ok and not the satanic spawn of your over-active imagination, swallow your pride and tell them.  Your day, and theirs, will be better!
  • Littering is not cool!  Don't toss your cigarette butts and other random trash on the sidewalk or into nearby bushes for someone else to come behind you and clean up.
  • And this shouldn't need to be said, but... don't be a P-I-G at the table.  Bodily noises need to be kept to yourself!  Burps, lips smacks, chewing like a loosely dentured goat, picking at your teeth and checking out what you just blew from your nose aren't habits that leave a favorable memory of your presence at dinner.  So don't.  Just don't.
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I used to think we all knew that good manners are about more than just using the right fork at dinner.  It's about being sensitive to how the people around you feel and savvy about how those feelings affect their perception of you.

Good manners can take us places that neither money nor education can.  And lacking them can deny us that advantage!

Sometimes I wonder what's happened to this little gem of truth in our society.  Some days it seems that the most simple and basic manners are the exception not the rule any more.  Why have we forgotten how to be a good human?

Maybe you agree with my list and maybe you don't.  Maybe you find my sarcastic edge today humorous or maybe you think I'm a mannerless jerk for saying what's on my mind in this way.  Maybe you even have rules you'd like to add to the list?

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