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Whatever happened to graciousness?

Posted: June 10th, 2005, 2:07 am
by anna
Am I the only one who has noticed lately that people are less gracious than they used to be? I just got off the phone with a person in India, who was helping me with a problem with our satellite internet connection, and he was so gracious, so polite, so patient, and so eager to help, that the contrast between many of my local calls was glaring. When did we become a nation of entitled and thoughtless people? What happened to the grace that was so American, and created the charm of the American? There was a time, you know, when Americans were considered childlike and sweet because of that openhearted generosity of spirit, and grace.

All I can say is that if you are an investor, start investing in India and Asia, they will replace most of our service jobs because of the above, and their economies will flourish.

Bah and humbug I say to those of us who cannot see beyond our immediate wants and needs and thus fail to remember there is more to this world than "mine", and with that, friendliness, joyfulness, helpfulness, and kindness slowly dwindle away. :( I guess this was a bad day for me, I just suddenly despaired over this country and its failing spirit. :cry:

Posted: June 10th, 2005, 12:15 pm
by Bhakti
Anna, we recently had some friends visiting from Australia. They were amazed and bewildered by how polite and friendly Maine people are. With construction or a line of building traffic, people would wave them to pass, for example. Our friends had problems with their rental car, and the company gave them a $200 rebate. Some of our Maine friends generously asked them to stay in their rental home on Mt. Desert Island for free for 2 weeks because they hadn't rented the home yet for the summer months. These Australians were duely impressed and said that such care and thoughtfulness never happens in Australia. I'm happy that we still have some polite, generous, and open-hearted people in America.

As for American businesses, in general, I agree with you, Anna. And I believe that this untoward behavior begins at the top. Look at the behavior of our top government officials and our CEOs. Employees have more and more pressure and work on them filtered down through top management. They are under so much stress in the workplace and can't possibly accomplish the work heaped on them without taking numerous shortcuts. Their behavior reflects demoralizing treatment, yet they fear losing their jobs and will put up with such treatment. They are willing to take paycuts and, sadly, give up their souls, thinking that they can't survive in any other way.

Bless the Indians and all others who refuse to treat others with nothing less than kindness and generosity. They give me hope in what appears to be a tragic and faithless world. Blessings, Bhakti

Behold the poor Indian, who sees God in the clouds and hears Him in the wind. Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Posted: June 12th, 2005, 3:10 pm
by anna

I loved the Quote by Pope, who of course, was referring to the American Indian, as opposed to the east indian. Let's not go there though.....with respect to the ungraciousness we as an early country heaped upon the native american inhabitants!

Yes, you are quite right, with regard to most Mainers, although I can certainly recollect a few moments where rudeness was evident in some places. I think it is possible that Mainers are kinder and gentler overall, because there is less congestion and more free space. Also, Bhakti, your friends were visiting rural Maine - there is quite a difference between rural Maine and Portland, for example. Rural Maine is probably very similar to any rural area in the U.S., there are open spaces, nature is evident all around, and the pace is considerably slower.

There is a really valid argument for the theory that humans behave like rats in crowded places, and thus the more congested the place becomes, the more curt and buffered the inhabitants. Of course, if that is true, it flies in the face of the politeness of East Indians, since they may be one of the most crowded countries in the world, in their cities. Perhaps this is simply good training in phone etiquette, and in the real world, they are every bit as curt as the rest of the world. I haven't been there, but I have a friend who has frequently visited, and found the country intolerable the last time he was there. So perhaps it is only phone etiquette. Whatever it is, it works - I came away impressed and grateful to their assistance, and concluded from that, rightly so, I think, that businesses which invest in their services will be richly rewarded.

One of the very reasons we live in rural Maine is for the above reasons - there is a laissez faire attitude where we live, and a tolerance and acceptance of difference, imperfection, and a kind of earthiness which is grounding and equalizing. From a spiritual point of view this kind of environment is incredibly supportive of the spiritual search, or the individual who is inner directed for any reason, God or otherwise. Having lived here for 30 years, I cannot stress how important the environment has been in my own development. I find, in my recollections, that much of the guidance, unbeknownst to the individuals, came directly through the grounded and incredibly realistic and instinctive knowledge of the less highly educated, but extremely wise, local citizens of Maine. It was not the middle-class that taught me the connectedness of humanity to the soil, but the rural woodsmen and mothers of children. It was the connection they had to the land and their approachability, their essence, if you will, that they had somehow still retained, and which was probably attributable to their remaining in a rural setting. Add to that, the ability to live within a forest of trees, see the stars in clear skies (well, not lately, thanks to pollution), hear the rain fall, smell the sap of trees rising, and hear one leaf drop in the stillness that can only be found in a rural setting, and you begin to release the buffers and protective barriers that living within a more populated environment create over time. And of course, with that release, the heart opens, and you begin to feel safe connecting to the universe.

I hope this will always remain in Maine, or any other rural area, for that matter, for the sake of that very great gift. There is, in many spiritual traditions, a point where the student is advised to go the hills and meditate there until realization. Surely it is this same kind of environment and its supportive aspects that underlies that advice - it is just easier to do it in a rural place, for all the above reasons.