I think the whole world is in need of a lesson in basic Christianity, especially the Christians. Everyone else is in great need of an extra-strong dose of politeness. It seems to me if you want to meet the rudest and most impolite people in the world all you need to do is fly. Who is rude when flying? Just about everyone, including the airline check-in people, TSA, other security, In-flight bosses (whatever they are calling “stewardesses” these days), airport staff, taxi drivers, immigration and customs officials, other passengers, and I am sure the list could go on and on.
Yesterday I had to take three flights. I take these three flights every two months, so I am very familiar with all the airports and procedures. The first flight is 1.5 hours, the second one is 3.5 hours and third one is only 1 hour. Some of the layovers are short, and some long. Yesterday the flights were fine, but nearly everything else was a nightmare. Let me illustrate what happened:
1) Arriving at the airport at 6:00am everything was going well until we were ushered into a line which was manned by an elderly staff member who apparently was in no rush to issue a boarding pass. 200 people checked in around us as we waited in line. Everyone was gone and we were still waiting. Eventually we had to be escorted to the flight as the plane was already boarding. Guess who got rude? Security. In the Philippines it is Philippine National Police. Mind you we have a Philippine Airlines escort with us who just walks through the security along with my family. When they saw me I think they got the idea: let’s mess with him. They checked my bag, then checked me, frisked me, then began to ask me to take off more and more clothing. I followed all their instructions (due to the fact they carry 9mm), but they were obviously just being rude. Finally after they cleared me, they told me to “hurry up” and get dressed and leave the area. They never noticed the two bottles of water in my bag, nor my laptop because they were so fixated on just being rude to me.
Upon arriving at the waiting aircraft a friend joked with me that “at least the bad part of the day was over.” I replied in jest, “Ah, but the day is not over yet!” My statement was prophetic!
2) Next stop: Manila. After checking in we had to pass Philippine Immigration as we departed for Bangkok. Again, because of a short layover we had a Philippine Airlines escort (they really did a good job with our group). We checked individually and each one got a quick stamp and off we went. However, one immigration officer (the biggest Filipino I have ever seen) stopped a member of our team and said she could not proceed because she lacked documentation. As the member of the team (and carrying all the documentation) I stepped up to supply the documentation. Over the next ten minutes he addressed me as “hey man” at least three times and “dude” twice. He was never polite, nor professional, and clearly a very rude individual. He was a “gate keeper” and clearly didn’t care about anyone else. Finally, with one last cheesy comment he let us pass. He said, “I am only doing this for your safety.” I could not possibly dream up a more irrelevant and ignorant comment. Boy was I glad to finally get on the plane (which had waited 10 minutes for us).
3) A few hours later I arrived in Thailand; the “Land of Smiles” according to tourism commercial. All was well. Out of “Catholic country”, surely the Buddhist would be more polite, I thought. After a long layover we were finally checking into our flight to Cambodia. After waiting in line I stepped up with my family and handed our four boarding passes to the agent. Abruptly, she threw her hands down and said with a snarl, “give them to me one at a time”. So I gave her one and laid the other three individually on the counter in front of her. She barked, “hand them to me”. I said, “What’s wrong? Smile a bit!” She glared back at me with eyes of fire. I just smiled back. Rudely she waved each of my kids through. I smiled at her and said, “please smile.” After I had met some of the rudest people in the world, I was prepared for anything. She continued to glare at me and everyone else. I looked at the other people in line who were equally wondering what was wrong with the check-in staff. Finally I said, “Please smile. I dare you to smile.” You could see her whole face boil red. She handed me my boarding pass and said in sweet voice, with an angry glare on her face, “kap kunh ka” (Thank you very much). Oh the hypocrisy of the words. We moved on. No smiles in Thailand today.
When flying it is amazing how many rude people you meet. You can almost say that in general people don’t care about each other at all. They clearly have never been taught to be polite to others. How many of us can remember a time when someone was nice to us? Someone who just offered us simple politeness and courtesy? I really have to think hard. Yet, when we think about how many people have been rude to us, you could list a dozen incidents a day of random rudeness.
Jesus said, “12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV). Another version says it even more clear, “12 In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NASB).
The word “rude” is actually only used in the NIV. Rudeness in the Bible is actually several different Greek words which are all related. They include words which mean: ugly behavior, unbecoming manners, to disgrace, to mock, to dishonor, or to cause public shame. The meaning of “rudeness” in Asia is easily understood in terms of “causing another to lose face” as well.
The whole world needs to have a basic refresher course in God’s way. “Treat others the same way you want to be treated.” Somehow people think there are no consequences for their rudeness. I can assure you there always is. Some consequences include: a negative view of the person’s country, a negative view of their occupation, and loss of sales to the company. As the company loses sales they will immediately cut back on staff. Rudeness is the opposite of love and certainly the reaction of anyone toward rudeness will never be positive nor have any benefit. In fact, spiritually speaking, being rude to people probably opens a person’s life to demons and allows the devil to have strongholds and influence on them.
So, how can we stop the epidemic of rudeness?
1) Follow Jesus. “Treat others and you would have them treat you.”
2) Stop Shopping. Don’t pay people to be rude to you. Don’t support the companies, products or countries which are rude to you. (Loss of revenue will force them to make changes.)
3) Endeavour to treat people nicely and politely.
4) Insist that those under your responsibility (family, staff or others) are genuinely polite people.
5) Blog and YouTube. I have never known a “suggestion box” or “complaint letter” to have any beneficial response. They simply don’t care. The internet is the great equalizer. Post your grievance, share your pain, name names publically . . . watch the response you get! They will listen.
6) Pray for the rude people to be convicted of their behavior and repent.
7) When people are rude to you, don’t respond with rudeness. Do you best to respond with love, or just ignore them.
8) When you are having a bad day, don’t take it out on others.