Respect and Courtesy

Respect and Courtesy

“I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same of them.”
John Wayne in The Shootist.

This statement from John Wayne’s last movie seems like common sense. After all, good people don’t treat other people poorly and they don’t expect to be treated badly by others either. This is one of the basic tenets of decent behavior when interacting with people, but more and more of our citizens are ignoring this out of a selfish, narcissistic attitude which looks at the world as if it revolves solely around them.

The true warrior doesn’t look at this world with that same uncaring attitude.. He doesn’t go around bullying other people. He doesn’t use his skills to intimidate others, belittle others, or become abusive in any way. He doesn’t treat others with disrespect, hate, or a better-than-thou attitude. He refuses to lower his standards to achieve his personal goals or to satisfy his own desires.

All of these things are below him, and at the same time, so is allowing others to treat him in these ways. He treats others with respect, and requires the same of them.

This doesn’t mean that he is constantly in someone’s face for not treating him right, but it does mean that he will require a certain amount of courtesy and respect from those he interacts with in his life. It doesn’t take much to treat others in a respectful manner; in general, people that are rude, go out of their way to be rude.

Courtesy and respect are both important parts of the warrior’s life. These traits are found, or should be found, in every martial arts dojo. It is pretty simple – treating people with courtesy and respect is merely showing that you value that person as a human being. It also demonstrates to the world that you value the traits of warriorhood and character.

Rude behavior toward another, in reality reflects the rude person’s own character. While everyone is free to act and speak as he or she wishes, you, at the same time, have the right to stand up to those who treat you in such a manner. To quote Captain Woodrow Call, from the movie Lonesome Dove, “I won’t tolerate rude behavior.”

The warrior also refuses to tolerate rude behavior. This is not to say that you should get physical or verbally threatening every time someone is rude to you. In today’s social climate, not only would that take up a large block of your time, but it would also land you in jail.

So the question remains, how should the warrior skilled in martial arts deal with inconsiderate, rude behavior? Try dealing with it from an attitude of educating the other person. Many people today have never even been taught how they should act, let alone anything about manners for that matter. Many don’t even realize that they are being completely rude and disrespectful.

You can correct, or bring these actions to their attention, without being confrontational or falling prey to the same type behavior yourself, by simply saying something such as, “Hey, you know, I don’t really appreciate what you just said (did, didn’t do, etc.) to me. Don’t you think that was kind of rude?”

Most people will apologize when approached in this manner, and, at the same time, you will have taught them a valuable lesson, while doing it in a non-confrontational way. By doing this, you have actually cared enough to help this person. Most people simply do not care enough to bother.

Many people tend to just ignore someone’s rude behavior because they are not self-confident enough to stand up for their own decent treatment, really don’t care about the other person or being treated with respect, or don’t value respect or courtesy themselves. Consequently, they just let the rude behavior slide. The problem with this is that it re-enforces this behavior, and these people continue to treat others rudely.

This brings me to another point. Although most times you don’t want to let this kind of behavior slide, you do have to use wisdom and be rational about who you confront, how you confront him, and when and where you confront him.

For example, you would not want to confront a group of gangbangers, hanging out with their buddies, for some minor discourtesy. This would obviously turn into something much more serious. There is a time and a place for everything, including inaction.

In the same way, you don’t want to embarrass someone in front of his kids, etc. There are many examples of times and places which are inappropriate to correct someone’s bad behavior. Use common sense and wisdom when deciding whether or not to correct someone who has been disrespectful or rude to you.

The bottom line is you don’t want to allow others to treat you in a disrespectful, demeaning way, not if you are truly living by the principles of warriorhood. At the same time, there is a right way and a wrong way to require courtesy and respectful treatment.

Way too many martial artists attempt to correct others’ actions in a tough guy, threatening manner. This is not the way of the warrior, but it is unwise and dangerous. Think before you act!

Bohdi Sanders

The Wisdom Warrior


Make sure to check out my new book, Modern Bushido
at The Wisdom Warrior Bookstore!

Be Sociable, Share!
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!