Monday, September 21, 2009

Manners and the Hope of the Future

In the last few weeks, the national news has picked up multiple stories that illustrate a general loss of civility in public discourse and action. Three items in particular struck a nerve: Congressman Joe Wilson's poor conduct toward the President of the United States during a presidential speech; esteemed athlete Serena Williams' inexcusable language and aggressive actions toward a line judge in the middle of a tennis match; and musical star Kayne West's utterly boorish behavior at the Video Music Awards. Three privileged people who simply should know better than that. But they clearly don't.

Manners and common courtesy are not options for anyone if we are going to live in any kind of harmonious community together. We simply must put limits on our behaviors in the name of the common good or chaos and anarchy will reign. Even animals know that--dogs will take their place in the pack order, bees and ants work in cooperation with each other, chimps will defer to one another as necessary to preserve the order of their family groupings. But some human beings seem to think that those rules don't apply to them--and we are all the poorer for it.

I don't want to live in some sort of restrictive world where we are chained by archaic rules of acceptable behavior imposed upon us by a privileged few who think they have that power. That would be the world Edith Wharton wrote about in "The Age of Innocence." Interesting to read about or observe on a movie screen, but a little overly binding for most of us. However, there is an underlying premise that still rings true: our externally expressed manners are reflective of our interior lives and of our upbringing. Those who do not know how to behave in public will pay a price. School administrators and teachers are noting an increasing lack of understanding of appropriate classroom behavior that enables everyone to learn. Jobs are lost over poor table manners; reputations marred by unacceptable public actions. Too many people are learning to their regret that by letting it all hang out on Facebook or some other social networking site, they have jeopardized their employment and romantic futures.

Here at our church in Krum, we're working to do our part to help our young people learn what is necessary for success in this life as well as hope in eternity. Starting Wednesday, Sept. 30, we being what we call our "Midweek Miracle." It's like Vacation Bible School in that we combine play, music, education, and meal into a program that develops the whole child or youth. We teach them table manners and how to eat family style and converse with peers and adults at a meal. They learn the elements of Bible that are absolutely essential for educated people to master. They engage in play and music that doesn't demand that they be experts as children, but instead encourage all to participate and to learn to support one another.

It's a great program. The cost is only $10/month, and that includes a weekly meal and all other materials. The value can't be measured. Bring your children, grandchildren, neighbor children, all children and youth from first grade through middle school, to the church at 1001 E. McCart on Wednesday, Sept. 30, right after school. Come and learn about this adventure, and let us help you bring up these children in ways that will serve them well the rest of their lives. Help ensure their future by building into them now the joy of civility and learning at our Midweek Miracle. For more information, check out website at or call the church: 482-3482.

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