Thoughts on Civility, random

Thoughts for today.

I’m sitting up with my wireless keyboard and it’s still working well. I decided to be lazy and hook my laptop up to the TV and use that big screen. The older I get, the harder it is to look at the relatively small screen. And, yes, it’s nice to be able to view from across the room.

Alexa is playing 80’s country music – Keith Whitley – and there’s a couple of the younger cats asleep by my feet. It’s quiet outside, with only the occasional vehicle going by. The new neighbor’s kids are playing in their yard and Sirius goes to the fence every so often to check on them and the puppies. He likes people, except at night when I put him on guard duty.

So my thoughts are on the state of the world. Here where I am, it’s quiet and I don’t want it to be otherwise. Aside from the kids going down the road blasting music. I did that at that age, so I really can’t complain too much. Maybe the kind of music I could.

Elsewhere, well, there’s strife. I deliberately have not checked the news channels or newspapers today. Don’t really want to, honestly. People fighting over land, water, various insults both perceived and real. The Korean War might actually be over – there were documents signed at any rate, so we will see what happens. I hope so. I’ve heard about the residents not being able to really see family for the longest time, or work, or whatever. It’s not something that we as Americans may have experience with at home. I mean to say, we aren’t technically in a civil war.

We’re incivil to each other a lot, but that’s for another day and another set of thoughts.

Our Civil War from 1861 to 1865 was bad enough. I really don’t want another one to come around, and that’s why I worry about the things that happen here. People get nasty to each other. Sure, I could mention the role or roles social media and the 24-hour news cycle play. That isn’t insignificant, but my thoughts are with civility. It’s defined as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech,” and it’s something I fear is disappearing in day-to-day interactions. As yes, I am as guilty of this as the next person. Work with me here as I explore this thought.

  • ‘Formal.’
  • ‘Politeness and courtesy.’
  • ‘Behavior.’
  • ‘Speech.’

There’s been a lot made about the anonymity of the Internet. Twenty years ago, that was certainly the case. Someone insulted you online, and all you really had was an username and maybe an avatar of some type.

Now, with Google and various information aggregators, not to mention law enforcement resources, that’s not so much the case.

Insult someone on Facebook or something, well then there’s a distinct possibility that the someone might pull a detective cap out of the drawer, put it on and start tracking. Once your information has been ferreted out, then stuff could happen. Personal visits, getting SWATted, doxxed, one-star reviews if you own a business, lots of things.

Knowledge is power, you know.

Another thing I’m guilty of is taking things personally. I’m still aggravated about being called a slaver once when I mentioned that I used to work in the corrections field. The person in question that said that to me is not on my friends list anymore, and I haven’t tried to reestablish contact. That conversations was pretty fiery in a dripping-with-sarcasm way.

I try not to, and I suspect many other people try not too. When there’s a button or ten that can get pushed, best believe that there’s going to be someone that delights in pushing them.

Sometimes, those people are called trolls, sometimes they simply don’t care what your position on a given matter is.

‘Formal’ comes to mind. I’ve noticed a trend of people using Latin terms as one would in a debate. Some can do it and be evenminded and fair, but the ones that do it and use them as a cudgel to dismiss the opinions of others – well, there’s no point in continuing the fight a conversation has become. I listed four items in quotes above, and frankly, all four should be present to have civil discourse.

I had the idea once to start a website where people could argue all kinds of things, but Monty Python and Facebook beat me to the idea and the execution. One was parody and one wasn’t intended, but it is what it’s become.

I worry that the forked tongues out there will overrun the upstanding ones out there.

I’ve been keeping a mental list of topics that people feel particularly strong about and will be nasty about.

  • Politics or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Religion or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Gender or perception thereof, self or otherwise.
  • Orientation, sexual or otherwise.
  • Romantic prowess or lack thereof.
  • Color/Race/Ethnicity.
  • Sports.
  • Work/Job/Career.
  • Where one lives or comes from.
  • Leisure activities.
  • Amount or presence of ‘formal education.’
  • Appearance.
  • Clothes.
  • Pets.
  • Food choices, whether by desire or restrictions for diet or religion.
  • Guns.
  • Knives/Swords.
  • Language, whether natively spoken or otherwise.

I’m sure there’s others. In fact, I’m positive there’s others. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bunch I’ve never heard of. We’ve gotten insular, even with worldwide telecommunications and associated technology, and there’s the whole ‘fear of stranger’ thing, too. Or maybe the word ‘disdain’ is a better fit.

I could say ‘we need to improve’ but I fear that’s a lot easier said that done. And I’ll bet that there will be comments to these thoughts for today that involve sneering at anything listed above as causes for the need for improvement.

I think I’ll go check on my sunflowers. Be kind to each other, okay?

The Widow’s Mites

 

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

-Luke 21:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

 

In the Gospels, The Book of Luke has always been the one that spoke to me the most. Some of that may be from reading a novel called “The Road to Bithyia” by Frank G. Slaughter, M.D. That work is not my focus here, but I do recommend it.

I’m thinking about the widow’s mites. In the recounting that Luke gives us, a widow is shown giving the two mites as her tithe. Now, there’s a lot of argument about how much does two mites equal in today’s wages. Frankly, the amount is beside the point. It’s more about what those two mites represented in the life of the widow than what it represented in what it could purchase.

We don’t know if the widow was aware of the presence of Jesus and his disciples. I’m not sure if she knew she was the focus of a ‘teachable moment’ for the followers of Christ. We can rely on accounts of Christ being able to perceive the heart and minds of those around him, including the widow. It may have been physically evident that she was poor from her style of dress, or her age, or possible undesirability for remarriage – we simply don’t know. Something drew His attention to her spiritual being.

We do know that there were those that bragged about their piety in the church, or other places. Of course, it stands to reason that those people were there too, and Christ was sure to contract those with the widow.

Her contribution was seen as having more spiritual value than its physical value. Sure, once the offering was totaled up by whomever had that job, the two mites probably went unnoticed in relation to the larger coins and such that the others put into the then-equivalent of a collection plate.

Surely there were a difference in the people doing the giving. The ones with wealth probably didn’t agonize over whether to tithe or eat, after all. If they did so, then they had problems that the widow was blessed to not have, anyway.

I’m wondering now how many kinds of ‘sacrificial giving’ there are in today’s world. In the widow’s case, it was financial. Nowadays, there’s a lot that I can think of. Doing things for the church, like cutting the grass and washing the windows, and helping with the parsonage, if there’s one. Babysitting kids during services, if that’s what the church does. Helping to run a food truck for people who are more unfortunate. Visit with people who are homebound. Help kids with things that their parents need help with, even though they’re working their fingers to the bone to provide for – something.

Find a strength in yourself and utilize it, in service to others. The widow gave her two mites in service.

You might not be rewarded with fame or fortune by doing it – but frankly, why would you want that?

The widow didn’t give her two mites with the intention of becoming someone famous in history or celebrated. I’m pretty sure of that. She most likely wanted to put her mites in the box without others seeing her and making fun of the paltry sum she had.

Good thing for us she was seen anyway and by Someone who could see more than any of us.

I’m grateful for that unsuspecting widow, far removed in time from me, with her two mites. She reminds me to be humble. Her treasures were stored up in heaven and I hope she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.

So, do things for others even if you are less than financially stable. Your actions can be a mite – good works, it’s sometimes called – but know that good works alone won’t guarantee you a spot on the Heavenly roster. I’m not going into the rest of those details here. For that, start with John 3:16.

Be kind to each other, okay?