Friday, June 29, 2012

Manners & Warriors

I’ve recently had interesting experiences with manners and the Church.  More specifically BAD Manners at Church activities. 

I’ll tell you a little about it without going into details, but I want to say up front that a true Righteous Warrior would not stoop to the level of poor manners. Poor manners are an expression of selfishness and show lack of self control. So in this experience, there is a lesson in how to behave and act like a true priesthood man.

In my years of service I’ve noticed a couple of things regarding deteriorating manners that have bugged me:

  1. Wearing hats indoors
  2. Not offering seats to women and elderly
  3. Not opening doors for others
  4. Talking over the top of others, talking while the teacher is speaking or not waiting your turn to talk.
  5. Vulgar talk and name calling (replacing  a swear word with a similar word that sounds really close to the swear word is not any better than simply swearing)
  6. Cell phones…just about everything about them is rude.  Same goes for iPads, tablets and other electronics.
  7. Going to sleep in Church

One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen is at buffets and banquets. When the go-ahead is given for people to line up at the buffet, I see grown men rush to the front of the line, load up their plates and scurry back to their chair and start eating…all the while their wives and kids are still in line, patiently waiting their turn to fill their plates to eat.  Sometimes Dad is done with his meal before the kids are even seated.  I see this and say to myself “Really?!?”  This is what MEN do?  By the way, it is equally as rude for the young men to do this.  If a 15 year old boy is knocking over 7 year old kids to be first in line for the buffet so he can stuff his face, he needs to have some serious self evaluation time. Brethren, if you really want to shock your wife, offer to take the kids and get their plates, even offer to serve HER.  She’ll think you’ve turned into Prince Charming.  Even something so simple as offering to get her a drink… IN FACT I DARE YOU TO TRY IT.  Serve her before yourself.  I guarantee you’ll see a smile that will make it all worthwhile.

I was raised in a home that the worst offense I could commit was to disrespect my mother.  If I really wanted to incur the wrath of my father, all I had to do was get sassy with mom.  I’ve tried to carry that same sense into my marriage and to teach it to my kids.  My wife is the queen in my life, I treat her as such and expect others to do the same. 

This belief/attitude is often best summed up with the question:  “Does the Queen of England ever open her own car door?” Of course the correct answer is “NO” so I don’t believe that women around me should either.  It has nothing to do with them being subservient to me, but it has EVERYTHING to do with me serving them! 

There are some simple, basic points of etiquette that all men should know and understand.

  1. When using public transportation, or attending an event where people are seated, if a woman, child or elderly person is standing, you offer them your seat.  There are no exceptions to this point (unless you are in a wheelchair, or otherwise incapable of standing).
  2. It doesn’t matter how bad your hair looks, when you enter a Church you remove your hat.  This rule does not officially apply to women as their hats are often pined to their heads, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t tacky for a woman to wear a hat to Church.
  3. If  you are engaged in a conversation with another human being, your cell phone does not take priority unless you are a doctor, police officer, firefighter, EMT or active duty Navy SEAL.  It’s OK to check your phone if it is ringing and you ask the person whom you are talking to and they give you the OK.  This does not apply to text messages or email.  Those messages can wait. If a call isn’t urgent (and they usually are not) then you can let them leave a message you call them back.
  4. When someone else is talking, you do not make attempts to speak over the top of them.  This is especially true if someone is teaching.  Teachers deserve respect.
  5. How you dress sends a message about you.  That is just a fact of life.  Deal with it.  When you show up to Church wearing black pants, black shirt and a red tie, EVERYONE there is thinking that you are either a pimp, a drug dealer or a mafia hit man.  NOT a worthy priesthood holder who represents Jesus Christ.  While I don’t hold with the erroneous concept of a ‘uniform of the priesthood’ I also know that you are judged by your appearance and you should try to dress appropriately for whatever the occasion may be.  It says a lot about you.
  6. You ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS open doors for women, children and elderly.  No Exceptions. In fact, there a several rules regarding interaction with women that I’d like to point out:
    1. You always offer her your coat.  If she is cold, it’s your job to make her comfortable.  I don’t care how cold you get, her comfort comes first.
    2. You never eat until she does.  This applies to dates, home cooking or when you are at a party.  You do not start to eat until your date, wife or the hostess of the party eats, or formally invites you to start eating. This also applies at dinner events where there are several people seated at a table…it is poor manners to start eating before every person at the table has been served.
    3. At buffets and ward parties, you should never be seated with your plate of food until your wife and kids are taken care of.  Same if you are on a date.  Offer to get things for her, bring her a drink, get her some cookies, whatever it is.  You are there to see to her needs and make sure she is happy and satisfied.  (are you noticing a trend here? MAKE SURE SHE IS COMFORTABLE FIRST!)
    4. Never, never, never sit out in the driveway and honk your horn for  your date or your wife.  If you are picking up a date, get out of the car and go to the door. When returning your date home, GET OUT OF THE CAR and walk her to the door.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  If your wife is running late, don’t sit and honk the horn.  Get out of the car and offer to assist her in whatever she’s doing. This is a guaranteed producer of “Brownie Points”.
    5. In social situations, introduce your wife or date to others.  She should never have to do this herself.

While I’m on the topic of how to treat women, here are a few personal beliefs that I hold on too.  I can’t say that these are ‘rules’, but a true warrior goes above and beyond rules to assure that people around them are honored and safe.  So here is what I personally believe and practice in my marriage relationship.
  1. Always hold hands.  My wife and I make a point to hold hands as often as possible. 
  2. When I’m driving the car, the front passenger seat is where my wife sits.  She doesn’t sit in the back with the kids, she sits beside me.  Same for Church and anywhere else we go.  We always sit next to each other.  A) this makes it easier to follow rule # 1 and  hold hands and B) it places her in a position of prominence in my life.  I mean really…how am I supposed to put my arm around her if there are four kids sitting between us on the pew?
  3. I kiss her every day, when I leave the house, when I come home, when I run to the store, when I leave for church meetings.  I give her a kiss. It’s a small gesture, but is says loud and clear “I love you and I’m thinking about you”.
  4. I never make jokes at her expense.  I never want her to feel uncomfortable in my presence.

Really it all basically boils down to thinking of others before self, and of service and sacrifice.  The essence of being a true warrior is that of selfless action.