Those of my generation and older can remember when it was glamorous to fly. It was a relaxing way to travel. Most people dressed up. And meals were served at 35,000 feet.
Today, with the hassle of TSA security checks, more people crammed into a smaller space, fewer perks and the battle for overhead luggage space, flying has lost some of its luster. (Although, for me a 2 ½ flight sure beats a 20 hour drive!) As a result, passengers have become more irritable, and easily upset by inconveniences or perceived slights by others. Also the flying public is less kind and courteous.
Former flight attendant, Shawn Kathleen documents the impolite actions of airline passengers as well as downright rudeness and crudeness on her blog passengershaming.com and reported in Tuesday’s edition of the Tampa Bay Times.
Shawn’s posts describe passengers taking off their shoes. Clipping their nails. Becoming intoxicated and obnoxious. Changing a baby’s diaper on a tray table. Leaving dirty diapers in the seat-back pockets Looking at porn on their computers. And becoming a bit too amorous in public.
Shawn Kathleen’s blog not only shames passengers but points to a lack of civility and courtesy among the general public. She comments that people have a “sense of entitlement” fueled by a narcissistic attitude that results in unreasonable and ridiculous demands on the flight attendants.
The horror stories of Shawn Kathleen and other flight attendants speak to the need for common courtesy and good manners as we interact with others. It reminds me of a quote by B.C. Forbes who once said, “Politeness is the hallmark of the gentleman and the gentlewoman.” It’s also the hallmark of a Christian.
The Bible actually speaks to the issue of civility and courtesy. In I Corinthians 13:5 Paul says “love does not behave itself unseemly” (KJV). The NIV translates this expression “love is not rude.” The NASU renders this “love does not act unbecoming.” The TEV reads “love is not ill-mannered.” And the J.B. Philips’ translation says, “love has good manners.”
In our interactions with friends or strangers we ought to conduct ourselves with respect, courtesy and good manners. We should not be thoughtless in our comments to other people. Or carelessly disregard the feelings and sensibilities of others. Or act in a way that is graceless and tasteless.
The New King James renders 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” “ The word translated courteous is better rendered “humble” in other versions. But doesn’t good manners and common courtesy require a bit of humility? Selflessness? Geniality?
The apostle Paul admonished, “Be kind to one another” (Eph 4:32). Kindness includes being cordial. Considerate. Courteous. Thoughtful. And respectful. Good manners say, “Please.” “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” And “excuse me.” It is kindness, courtesy and love in action.
In a world filled with so much rudeness and crudeness, it takes humility, patience and kindness to put up with the uncouth attitudes and actions of others. “The test of good manners,” wrote Wendell Willkie, “is to be able to put up pleasantly with bad ones.”
The spirit of Christianity is more than attending a worship service. Its leaven of affability and amiability ought to affect every area of life–our homes, the workplace, and our social relationships. And yes, even when we fly the unfriendly skies!
Ken Weliever, The Preacherman