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Stop an Epidemic

There is a virus that threatens our nation. No, it’s not Corona. It’s rudeness. People who stand in your way. Ignore you. Spew profanity. Play their music too loudly. Or talk loudly on their cell phones in your presence. Those who throw their trash on the street.

It’s everywhere. A survey found that 88% of Americans often or sometimes encounter rude people. I wonder if perhaps the other 12% live in seclusion in a cave somewhere.

It is easy to be rude – to act without thinking about how that action affects other people. Nearly half of us admit that we have at times acted rudely. The other half may have a slight problem with honesty.

It’s easy to think only of ourselves. Easy, but so wrong. And rudeness is contagious. Trevor Foulk, who researches organizational behavior at the University of Maryland, likens rudeness to the common cold: It's contagious.

“When it comes to incivility, there’s often a snowballing effect. The more you see rudeness, the more likely you are to perceive it from others and the more likely you are to be rude yourself to others,” he said.

Some 79% of us believe that rudeness is a problem. Nearly 2/3 of us say we are bothered a lot when we see rudeness. Research shows that it diminishes productivity and increases mistakes at work. 93% believe that it’s getting worse.

God offers a cure: “Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5). I cannot be a loving person and be rude in the same way that I cannot be loving and selfish at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.

It’s cheesy, but true that “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” It is what our Creator has wanted of us all along – love for him and for our neighbor. The good news is that consideration for others isn't complicated. It breaks down into simple steps that you and I can take every day to act selflessly – courteously.

It’s not hard to put my shopping cart in the corral when I’m done so that it’s not in someone else’s way. It’s easy to hold the door for another person, or to let them into a line of traffic. Just a smile or saying “hello” or “thank you” requires but a breath, but it makes the day more pleasant for others.

Rudeness is contagious. But, so are kindness and politeness. Pass those on.

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