I have the opportunity to travel to a faraway place for work. I go there a lot. When I land there, I arrive in a city of 25 million people. It is a big city.
I have been there 10 times so far. I have spent about 2-3 months of my life in this city. I have spent a lot of time on the trains, buses, highways, and walkways of this city.
I have never seen a piece of litter, in this city of 25 million people. Not a gum wrapper, or a soda can, or a bottle. Not a scrap of paper. Nothing. Nada. Not on the walkways, and not on the highways. And trust me- I look for it. Disney World has nothing on this city.
The reason this city is clean has nothing to do with how many trash cans there are, or how many street sweepers there are. Because there aren’t many trash cans, and I’ve never seen a street sweeper there.
The reason this city is so clean…are you ready for this…. is that people don’t litter. Ever.
They believe that it would be disrespectful to themselves, and to others, if they littered. So they don’t litter. Ever.
The Webster Dictionary defines civility as “polite, reasonable and respectable behavior”.
I was training for a walkathon last year with my daughter. We had to walk 18 miles in the walkathon. So we trained during the spring and summer. My guess is that we walked about 100 miles in training, mostly in our neighborhood.
We live in a nice area. We are blessed. Top notch schools, manicured lawns and flower beds. Chirping birds. You get the idea.
And a lot of litter thrown to the curb.
I finally became so frustrated, that I turned some of our training walks into “trash pickup walks”. And I filled white trash bags with trash on those walks.
I believe that we can do better than that.
I do not care if it is biodegradable. My litmus test is- would I throw it on my kitchen floor? If not, why is it ok to throw it on my street?
Every street that I walk on is my street. It is not ok to throw trash on my street. And it isn’t ok for me to leave it there either. So I am going to pick it up when I see it.
In the same faraway city that I travel to, I noticed the absence of something recently. Car horns. No car horns. I have never heard a car horn-not even once- in this city of 25 million people.
Last year, I stayed in a hotel in Manhattan. On the 25th floor. And I needed earplugs to go to sleep, because I could hear the car horns all night long.
Have I ever used my car horn? Yes I have. I admit it. But I am trying to be more conscious of how I drive.
I drive about 600 miles a week for work. 60 miles each way, every day. So I am in the car a lot, with a lot of you.
I am trying to be a better driver with all of you. When we are in traffic together (which is a lot of the time)- I try to let some of you in front of me. We aren’t going anywhere quickly anyway….so what is the difference? It doesn’t cost me anything to let you in front of me. It is not a competition, and it is not a race.
I am not going to use hand signals any more to show my displeasure. I am going to try not to react if you do use hand signals. As I recently read- “FIDO”. Which stands for “eff it- drive on”. It isn’t worth a road rage incident.
Have you ever looked at the “Comments” section after an article that you’ve read online? Have you ever been shocked at some of the comments?
What I read is more than just disagreement. I don’t expect everyone to agree about everything. What I am talking about are profane, hurtful, ridiculing comments. Sometimes I wonder if some of the comments are even legal.
So for the most part, I try not to look at internet comments anymore. I can’t clean it up, but I don’t have to throw my trash there, either.
This blog has a comments section. It posts to places like Facebook and Twitter. I left the “Comments” section available for the time being. Feel free to disagree with me. That is ok! I do not expect you to agree with me all the time.
But please be civil. Be respectful to me, and I promise to do the same for you. If the comments section becomes a place where people are hurtfully disrespectful to each other, or me, I will turn off the comments.
I listened to a conversation on a radio station recently. (I admit- it was sports radio). The radio host was speaking with a famous ex-athlete, about a very sensitive issue. They clearly disagreed in their opinions. The host and the athlete have known each other for years, and they consider themselves to be friends.
At one point, when things were getting heated, the athlete said- “we disagree about this-and that is ok- I want to continue to be your friend- we don’t have to agree on everything”. The athlete then asked the radio host- “can we disagree about this, and still be friends?”
He was civil. A friendship maintained. Well played.
We are not going to agree about everything. Can we be civil about it?
I have a friend, who I speak with 1-2 times a week. I’ve known him for almost 30 years. We went to school together, we’ve stayed in touch through three decades of families, fun and work.
He and I have different opinions about politics, about faith, and about football teams.
We have agreed that our friendship is more important than any of those differences.
This fellow showed up at my mother’s funeral. He didn’t care that we root for different football teams, or belong to different political parties. It didn’t matter. We are friends for life. We respect each other, and we care about each other.
One of the things that he and I have learned, is that sometimes each of us is wrong. That is ok. We remain friends. I think we always will.
Can we be civil towards each other?
Can we disagree, and be civil?
Can we disagree, and still be friends?
Can we disagree, and not need to be always right?