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Simple civility or niceness could change the nation… the world

By Vernon A. Williams

Could y’all try a little harder to be nice to one another in 2022? Why is that so difficult? Not throwing shade or puffing myself up, I’m talking to me too. I promise I will try to do a better job this year than last, with the help of the Lord. None of us are doing all that we can. But some folk have just gotten ridiculous.

The news was inundated last weekend with the senseless shooting deaths of six people and injuries to 12 in a bustling business district of Sacramento. Few knew that there were at least nine other cities that experienced mass shootings in America over the same few days. That included Hartford, CT; Covington, KY; Buffalo, NY; San Francisco, CA; Dallas, TX; Shreveport, LA; Colorado Springs, CO; Shelby, NC; and Monroe, LA.

Sadly, these incidents have been so frequent and numbing, they are considered to be “white noise.” You hear it, but you don’t hear it.

We routinely offer our thoughts and prayers but, frankly, the shock effect has dissipated into tepid acceptance of “the way it is.” Some are so on edge that they fight in store lines, shoot at one another in highway road rage and shamelessly trumpet racism, sexism, misogyny, antisemitism, homophobia and xenophobia – even at the highest levels of government.

In these trying times, the enemy pits neighbor against neighbor. Lifetime friends are falling out with one another. Family members won’t even speak. Cut-throat colleagues and coworkers mar the workplace. Ex-lovers become lethal enemies. Even the people of God, especially the people of God, often bring the wicked spirit of Diotrephes into the sacred House of Worship.

In the book of John, Diotrephes is described as the person who loves to be first, who refuses to welcome the apostles into the church, who maliciously spreads gossip about God’s people, who withholds kindnesses from other believers, who tries to convince others to follow his poor example, and excommunicates those who disagree with him.

World Civility Day 2017 Logo 002Diotrephes has no regard for authority, particularly the person the Lord has ordained to be shepherd of the flock. Instead, the perpetuator of discord relishes creating, contributing to and sustaining confusion. Peace and harmony are anathemas to him/her.

The confusion is so pervasive, some point the finger at others as being disrupters when their righteousness, as Christ teaches, is like filthy rags.

For the sixth year in a row, my good friend and fraternity brother Chuck Hughes, in his capacity as president of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, will spearhead the Northwest Indiana celebration of World Civility Day 2022, April 27. It will feature workshops, guest speakers, group activities and awards focused on civility. Get personally involved by reaching out to or call 219.885.7407.

Finally, allow me to share this testimony.

I was ushering at Kingdom Apostolic Ministries in Indianapolis last Sunday during our return to regular in-person worship for the first time in two years. A homeless woman came in with a backpack of all her worldly possessions and asked to be seated near the rear. I obliged.

Once Bishop Lambert W. Gates Sr. began preaching, I sat behind her in the usher’s row. Throughout the sermon, I reflected on how earlier she had summoned me, apologetically asking, “Can I put 20 cents in the offering? It’s all I’ve got.” I reassured her, “No need to apologize. Our pastor teaches it’s not equal giving that pleases God but rather equal sacrifice.”

We exchanged smiles as she handed over her last two dimes. As services neared an end, I noticed she was gone but saw that her bag was still in the seat. By the time she returned, I was standing in the aisle for altar call. I stopped her and asked how she would eat the rest of the day, having no money and nowhere to call home.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she looked me in the eyes and spoke with blessed assurance, “GOD WILL PROVIDE.” I was already holding the $20 in my hand before asking. I handed it to her and said, “He just did!”

She became weak at the knees, trembling before bursting out in tears and falling to the floor praising the Lord out loud. Another usher, deacon, altar worker and sister sitting in the same row lovingly surrounded her as she lay. We prayed over her. As she shakily rose trying to regain composure, she asked to be baptized! The altar worker put an arm over her shoulder, held her hand, and caringly escorted the sister down the aisle and up to the pool where she went down in the water in the name of Jesus.

I offer this heartwarming experience, in part, because at the outset of that service, Deacon Terry and Sister Alicia Morris had just urged the congregation to share with one another, and the world, random Acts of Kindness during this Holiest season – not as boasts but as inspiration to others and as witness to what GOD can do through each one of us in the most unsuspecting, unplanned situations!

It was a small gesture with a huge outcome in the Lord for this woman. To God be all the Glory!

But don’t get it twisted, no matter what your faith or lack thereof, even an unsaved sinner can be nice. His or her prayers’ reach the ears of God just like everyone else, so this is not about religion, it is about humanity, dignity, civility, and common courtesy.

Whether wealthy, poor, or somewhere in the vast center, young or old, no matter the gender, with no regard to race or ethnicity, education level aside, no matter where we live… we can all do better. We must do better… for our own survival.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hatred; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools.”

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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