Monday, September 26, 2011
Where Has All the Southern Hospitality Gone?
I live in the South. The DEEP south. Not Georgia, Tennessee or some other Southern state but I live in as far down as you can get without actually being in a coastal parish. I live in Southeastern Louisiana. Water is all around. We are shrouded in history, traditions, strange Napoleonic laws that no one quite understands but can't bear to get rid of. We have street names with 16 syllables. We built a city under water for crying out loud. We have Parishes, not Counties. We eat what doesn't eat us first and we fry it before we eat it. Music is in our blood. And we are hospitable.
Or so I thought.
What HAS HAPPENED TO YOU ALL, my fellow Louisianians?? We were more polite and caring to each other in the days following Hurricane Katrina than we are right now, when we should be rejoicing our city being rebuilt, our boys winning a Superbowl and the chance to wake up again each day!
Is it the economy? The murder rate (but really, that's not new people)? The heat? (It's almost fall!)
People are getting MEANER! Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just noticing it more as my children grow I'm becoming more aware of the world they're coming up in.
Sure, we had bullies when I was a kid, but not at the alarming rate we have now. Yes, we had road rage, but again, not like we do now. There have always been rude people..but are there more now?
For instance, generally speaking, people waiting in grocery stores down here are all in the same setting of sheep being led to slaughter. We wait our turn, flip through rag magazines, and chit chat with our neighbors in line. But TWICE in the past two weeks my best friend told me about several very rude people in line. They made comments while she price matched, or while her baby said "mama" repeatedly, or even while she just had coupons!
Yes, no one wants to wait in line...we all have SUCH VERY IMPORTANT things to do, but really? To comment TO HER FACE in line? Is that REALLY necessary? I mean, obviously she doesn't want to be waiting in line with a talkative toddler either, but do you really think your snide remark will make it at all better?
This morning, I'm on my way to pick up her son to bring him to school with my two boys. I come to a stop and due to the sun visor and the blinding sun, at first I do not see another car at the sto,p so I start to proceed. I see her, hit the brakes and wave apologetically.
Oh no, that was not good enough for her....she had to gesticulate wildly, curse at me (yeah, honey, I could read your lips), and stop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION to do all this.
It made me angry. It made me want to get out and yell at HER for her stupidity...then I realized...um, Amy, that would drop you down to her level. You would be making an example of the very rudeness you are complaining about right now!
So, I drove on, talked with my boys and said a prayer to God thanking him we didn't actually collide. And asking for continued patience to control my anger.
The best part? Chances are she works at the very school my boys go to because her car looked familiar and that is the time/route teachers take to school. Let's hope she controls that anger in the classroom.
We're all stressed, I get it. Times are hard. Economy sucks. Politics drive you batty. We can't change the very horrible things in life we want to change. We can't promise a better world for our children.
But you know what we can do? Change your attitude. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi is right. It's that simple. Yes, life can suck. But did you get up and drive your kids to school today and go on your merry way? Then be thankful. Did you forget to start the coffee this morning? Be glad you can swing by McD's and pick one up. Did you OPEN YOUR EYES? Say a prayer, someone didn't.
There are so many in this world who suffer horrendous injustices, even in our own rich, plentiful country. Children who don't eat, people dying of cancer, women being abused. These are all incredibly hard things to imagine. So, if for even a minute, your day is going bad, why don't you consider THOSE people?
Perhaps if you act more hospitable, kind, and loving to others, strangers and family alike, you will see the change Ghandi spoke of.
I'm not preaching to you all, I'm talking to myself too! I have to remind myself of these very things day in and day out. But, maybe, just maybe, if I say it enough...I will remember to be kind to others and they will return the favor.
To quote the very fabulous book, "The Help."
Let us stop disrespecting the blessings God has given us and let's search again for that Southern hospitality I KNOW we have in us.
I grew up in a time where school buses pulled over on the side of the road to let a funeral procession through. You removed your hat if you had one, you bowed your head and you did not utter a single word. The entire road did the same thing. Have you ever seen such a sight? The quiet respect as complete strangers stopped their world for 5 minutes to allow a grieving family to pass on their way to bury their loved one. THAT is southern hospitality and kindness that I know we have deep down. Maybe social networking and the media are making us callous. Maybe it's time to get back to what's real, what's right.
What would your MawMaw do??
This is a cross post on Real Housewives of NOLA.