Let's Make Courtesy Common in Indianapolis!

Published: July 6, 2017

by David Siler, President/CEO of Families First

I don’t really know if violence is more prevalent in our world today, or if we are just more aware of it due to our connectedness through all our modern communication tools. I do know that violence – the kind perpetrated by one human being to another – is simply not an acceptable way for us to engage with one another.

Nearly every day in our own beloved Indianapolis we hear about yet another murder – violence taken to its extreme. The recent bombings in Europe are yet more examples of violence on a massive scale. We fear that North Korea may be developing the capacity to do violence on a city-wide or national scale, while we and other countries already have the capacity to do so and have done so in the past.

I am baffled that we as a human race have not evolved as a species beyond killing one another as a means of solving our problems. What do we get with violence? More violence.

Most of us feel helpless in the face of such an enormous and complex issue.

When we hear about yet another car bombing somewhere in the world, we can’t imagine where to begin to stop the madness. I don’t know about you, but I am growing weary and even at times numb to what is happening within my own community and the world community. What if there was something, even if it were ever so small, that all of us could do?

The issues at the root of violence, within our families, our communities and even the world are incredibly big and complex. But what if we were to trace backward from violence to its most minor elements?

What if we worked to solve this grand issue by doing the smallest of things?

I am going to suggest – and stay with me here – that we focus an enormous amount of attention on the smallest of human interaction...on courtesy. I am defining courtesy here as the demonstration of respect or positive regard to another person.

Has anyone noticed that basic human courtesy has become much less common over just the past few decades? No more is this witnessed than while driving a car around town. I am proud that we in Indiana seem to practice courtesy a bit better than in other parts of the country (our “Hoosier hospitality" for instance), but we too have lost so much of the sense that others matter as much as me. Or, as Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, “we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”

What if that simple, old-fashioned golden rule of “treat others as you would want to be treated” became standard operating procedure for all our human interactions?

I am calling for a campaign, using #MakeCourtesyCommon, to inspire us all to act in the smallest ways that demonstrate to one another that we matter, that we are all important, that we all deserve respect. Just as violence breeds violence, so too does courtesy and respect breed courtesy and respect. Let’s start a revolution of courtesy!

We can most easily practice the principle of courtesy within our families. Children who are taught and develop the habit of courtesy are very likely to live this principle throughout their lifetime. Our children must see the habit in us, so we must first start with ourselves.

I am not suggesting that our campaign will solve violence around the world, but we might all feel just a bit more empowered if we are working to demonstrate and model how treating others with courtesy/respect/kindness results in more peace and feelings of safety and security.

To ensure that our campaign (revolution) is positive, since positivity is what we seek to create, I suggest that when using the hashtag, instead of pointing out violations of courtesy, we point out examples of courtesy and ways we can teach it, model it and spread more of it! Can we do it, Indy? Let's #MakeCourtesyCommon.