As a society we have a responsibility to treat others with respect, despite the circumstances we may find ourselves in. That is an underlying, long held belief of a civilized society, to treat one another civilly. I believe, with the advance of technology and the ability to speak anonymously, our civil society has become quite uncivil. Unfortunately, the lack of civility and kindness has permeated all levels of society, from the cyber bullying in grade school to the despicable behavior of famous people who believe they are entitled to more and better than everyone else.
Recently, a cable network spokesperson was exposed for treating a customer service representative in a rude and cruel manner. Her car had been towed; she was unhappy about the inconvenience of being towed and having to pay to get her car back. In her displeasure, she thought it was appropriate to disparage the woman who had the responsibility of collecting the fees. She did not verbally attach the owner, who holds the power; she attacked the woman collecting the fee, who, in all probability, has very little power in the decisions made at the company.
Now, I know we all get upset from time to time at poor customer service, or we may just be having a bad day and the last person bears the brunt of the last straw. I have waited in the doctor’s examining room, in paper gown, for 30 minutes waiting for the doctor. I understand getting annoyed, but I do not berate the nurses or take personal shots at them. I have gone out to make sure I have not been forgotten. I have gotten dressed and requested my co-payment refunded as I have rescheduled my appointment. I have also asked the nurse if they are behind when entering the office. I get it, but I do not think my inconvenience gives me a license to abuse the person who has no responsibility in the operations of the office. They are just doing their jobs.
I have to admit, it would be easy to take out my frustration on the clerk who does not know how to ring up my refund, or the customer service representative who is reading off the script and is unable to answer my question, but then I remember who I represent. Would Christ be glorified if I was cruel and unkind to someone? Would someone from my church be stumbled by my behavior? Will I really accomplish anything treating someone with anger and disparagement?
After watching the video of the network newsperson, reading the articles and then seeing the apology she tweeted, I was left wondering, Was she sorry for the ugly and hurtful things she said or was she sorry she was called out for her awful behavior?
I also thought of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 6:45: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
As I read these words, I realize the real reason I think before I react to a situation. After I gave my life to the Lord, the Holy Spirit came into my life and He changed my heart. On my own, in my flesh, I would have probably been ugly too, but God has put good treasure in my heart. Not only has He changed my heart, but I do not want to be ugly with people. I do not want anyone to question my walk with the Lord. I want the love of the Lord to be reflected in my life. I may not always succeed, but you can bet I will be apologizing when I react in my flesh, and I will not wait for someone to call me out. The Holy Spirit has it covered and will let me know when I am out of line.
Clearly, as people walk farther and farther from the Lord and the simple teaching of the Bible, we are going to see our society grow more uncivilized, but we do not have to be part of the incivility. We can be the customers to bring the joy of the Lord into the establishments we do business. As children of the Lord, it is the standard He has set for us. As reflections of Him, we can do no less than what He would do when faced with a difficult person or situation: “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:39).