Once enough people do this….making daily decisions regarding behavior, practice, and lifestyle based on the values they hold, other people start to notice and think, 'Hey, maybe I should think about X and incorporate it into my world.’ It spreads. It becomes commonplace to act or think X, and next thing you know it is an issue, a real hot button topic and the masses at large are weighing in on it and sometimes putting it to law or banning 'it.' It’s amazing how it happens, really.
There will always be opponents to whatever you believe or hold dear, and I’m not necessarily talking about politics or religion, two of my least favorite topics, but just simple viewpoints or beliefs. That’s okay, heck that’s even great, as it’s the various takes on the “hows” of the world that make us think and consider the opinions we’ve actually honed, or in some cases, should develop. Discord keeps us on our toes and in some cases, forces us to take action on our beliefs.
Complacency, on the other hand, does nothing to help a cause. Never considering your own opinion on a topic, thereby choosing not to weigh in at all, or even worse, doing nothing when you know the right course of action, based on your own opinions and value system, can actually inflate a subject. Just as taking a stand or an action is contagious, doing zero, or doing nada except complaining is also infectious, causing those around you to do as you do. Desensitized to the issue, it actually becomes worse, as it appears as if there is no case at all, since there is no attention being pointed its way.
Let’s apply a super general example to prove my point: Using common manners when interacting with others.
It’s super important to many that manners be used, as they are a symbol of respect when communicating with other people. If you share that principle, most likely you utilize manners yourself when you interact with the population at large. You teach those niceties to your children, and they in turn, model your behavior and that which is expected of them, in their own. Hopefully, if one of you occasionally ‘falls off the wagon’ and forgets or consciously chooses not to be respectful by, the family, subscribing to the same belief system, will keep the individuals in check.
But other people other people enter the picture.
“I want a snack now” a 6-year-old whines while at the house visiting. “What do you have?”
What do you do now? It’s someone else’s kid….in your house. To me it’s the same as those mystery books I read as a kid where you could choose the outcome of the story yourself, based on the choices you made during the book….If A, then turn to page 114, if B, then turn to page 64…..the ending was different every time. You can correct the child and suggest he use “please” or give him the opportunity to rephrase his statement as a polite request. Or you can take a mental note of his lack of manners, but ignore it and give him his snack options and deliver the goods. Or maybe you’re already so desensitized to so many kids not using manners that you don’t even notice the infraction or recognize the teaching moment.
Your action, or lack thereof, has impact. If you create a learning experience and give the child an option to use good manners, not only does it have affect on him, it also is recognized by your own children and teaches them how to use and ask for respect in their own lives. Maybe the child will say please or thank you next time he asks for something from another child or teacher or parent. Maybe he won’t. But he’ll know that the expectation is out there, even if just at your house. Choose another path, and do nothing, and the child learns that there is no expectation whatsoever. Your child learns that she has to use good manners but her friends don’t, and maybe your child even deducts from the situation that she doesn’t need to use manners at another friend’s home.
Now multiply this exact scenario. If every parent acted on the principle of good manners with every child, not to mention adult, that crossed his path, imagine the effect! Every child would know, in no uncertain terms, that manners were not only expected, but required. Manners would, by necessity, be incorporated into acceptable behavior. Conversely, if every parent opted out of mentoring manners in those crucial teaching moments with their own or other people’s kids, children walk away feeling not an ounce of obligation toward respect, but also with a cemented behavior pattern. After repeated exposure to enough passive parents, lack of manners in communication simply becomes a way of life for kids.
Now take this elementary example and apply it to every other creed you follow. Your politics, your religion, you human rights stance....are you talking the talk and walking the walk with each view, or are you on cruise control and only setting the behavior portion to action when its convenient or non-confrontational? I feel like it’s a constant struggle to put myself out there and consistently live the life my personal philosophy dictates. But then I remind myself that it’s not just about me. It’s about what my kids and their friends and my associates and friends and the community at large sees me practice. If I don’t break down my own ideals into actions that are clear, my complacency makes just as loud of a statement….that my beliefs aren’t really that important.
Look at your own actions in relation to your beliefs. Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?