This I Believe

Karen - St. Paul, Minnesota
Entered on May 1, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in civility. I believe in saying please and thank you, waiting my turn and in asking permission. I believe in the small exquisite gestures of a polite society; letting another go first, allowing that car to merge in front of me and holding open a door. If someone asks me to turn down the music, I will. If I have wronged you I owe you my apology. I believe in taking responsibility for my actions, in working to the best of my abilities and giving credit where it is due. I believe in the golden rule, the honor code and my mother’s voice in my head that says “if you can’t say something nice about someone Karen, then don’t say anything at all”.

I’m not saying I’m able to live up to my beliefs all the time. I try. Like most people, I’m drawn to juicy gossip like a moth to the flame. It’s enthralling and weirdly comforting to hear about another’s fall from grace. For the moment, anyway. Here’s the thing about civility when it’s done honestly and well it enhances both recipient and practitioner. For that moment we are both blessed. Where gossip diminishes, civility raises up and inspires us to be better than we are naturally.

I believe our country could use a civility campaign. I’m hoping the next First Lady or Gentleman will take up the cause. Maime Eisenhower got us all to pick up our trash and look what a difference that made. And whether we’re a blue state or a red state or neither, civility blesses us all.

I believe in civility. In minding my manners, watching my tone and asking permission. I believe in table manners, dressing respectfully, putting it back where I found it. I believe in respecting my elders. That one makes me smile. Respecting my elders is ultimately a form of self respect, isn’t it?

Thank you for listening.