A year ago, I had the great blessing of being able to visit Ireland. It had been on my list for years. Starting in Dublin, I visited all but 3 counties and loved it. I loved the food, the weather, the coastline, the smells and sounds; I loved it all.
But my absolute favorite thing was the graciousness of the people. If you stopped someone and asked for directions, they would walk with you to the next corner and show you the way. A gentleman overheard me talking about trying to find my way out of a major city. He stopped and offered to drive in front of me until we got to the motorway.
If you passed a stranger on the road, they waved. They all waved.
There was a kindness and gracious civility that surpasses anything that I normally experience in southern California. Truth is, our lack of basic manners is pretty appalling.
Samuel Adams (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States) once said, “A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous thy cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
I am convinced that many of us have lost our virtue. We can’t seem to remember the basic behavior principles we learned in Kindergarten. Pause at any intersection and you will quickly notice the lack of “wait your turn” advocates.
Reach a door at the same time as anyone else and note the absence of a gracious “no, you go first.” No one holds doors open for women, ladies with babies or older folks. Our attitude seems to be: “A seat on a bus (or a parking spot) is mine unless you beat me to it.”
Too often, if a foreigner asks directions we impatiently point. If someone asks for a handout, we ignore the need and evaluate his or her shoes. If a car needs to merge in our lane, we ignore them. Seems that we all need a huge dose of “Irishness.”
So this week let’s pretend that we are driving along a narrow Irish road. Wave every time you pass a car. (If you are embarrassed, just wiggle the fingers you have on the steering wheel…it counts.) Let’s open doors for every body! (And for bonus points, wish them a good day.)
Let’s say thank you every time the waiter fills our glass or removes a plate or remembers the ketchup. Tell somebody at work that you appreciate their efforts. Write your spouse or kids a sweet post-a-note for taking the trash out or picking up the living room or helping with dinner.
Maybe then we will all discover a bit of Irish in our genealogies.