Do you know how to remain considerate when all those around you seem to be losing their minds? No? Me either! It is incredibly difficult to rise above the pettiness that I’ve been experiencing lately while going about my business in the world around me. But, this is where the older generation has much to offer. They have the wisdom of the years in them coupled with the wisdom of many years before that that was handed down to them through stories and lessons. So, here is a very incomplete list of areas where I’ve learned consideration for others from those a generation (or three) ahead of my own.
Stand up. If someone is older than me, sick, weak or tired & there is only one seat available, I’ve been taught to stand and offer my seat. This is not about my right to sit because I arrived first, it is about what is right. Consideration for another is basic decency.
Speak clearly, politely & respectfully. When others are speaking angrily, it can be very difficult to control the rising anger in ourselves. If we give in to that anger, however, the situation usually escalates. Be clear about your position, do not be bullied, but be polite in the process. Generations preceding our own knew how to argue in a more respectful way than ours, even if it came to major issues. After the Revolution, for instance, there were a series of discussions in the papers which ended up being called “The Federalist Papers” and “The Anti-Federalist Papers” which discussed the pros and cons of a central Federal government. They argued their points concisely, thoroughly, and with passion, but they did not stoop to the level of denigrating the intelligence or character of their opponent. There is much to be learned from this in our day of social media. The issues we face are every bit as flammable, but if we do not walk with consideration for our fellow man, we will all go up in smoke.
Be timely. Sometimes it’s not possible. In some cultures being on time means being 10 minutes late. Whatever the standard is for the area you live in, do your best to live by it. If you cannot, then call to communicate, but do not expect others to wait for you. Consider that another’s time is more important than your own and try to plan for it.
Look for areas in all parts of your life in which you can show consideration to those around you. Open doors for someone else (this does not have to be a male only activity). Let someone with tired children cut in front of you in the grocery line, even if they have more items than you do. Give people a wave if they accidently cut you off instead of honking angrily. Help someone else carry things that appear to be a struggle for them.
There are countless ways that we can all be more considerate of those around us. The generation that suffered through WW2 has much to teach us on this subject. Perhaps because they saw how humanity can quickly become de-humanized, they decided that they could do better, one person at a time. Being considerate is not just being polite. It means to consider [to think about, ponder] another person. Take a look at those you come into contact with. Are they struggling to make ends meet? Share with them something from your garden. Are their kids watching far too much television for their age, but the mom is so tired she can’t find her way out? Purchase a game or activity that the children are able to play on their own so she can have a reprieve without the television. Or if you cannot do that, simply not judging her is a good step in being considerate. Is there an elderly person near you who loves children but has no grandchildren of their own? Bring yours to visit regularly & offer to help out with anything they need. Does someone not have a car? Offer a ride to town occasionally. This list could be endless.
In being considerate, it is not necessary to become a doormat. If you are unable to do something for someone, do not feel guilty. But, if you are able to do something, go ahead and do it. It might be small to you, but it will mean the world to them!