I have been contemplating this blog and this business for some time. A number of factors have come together to finally push me into action. The first is an inconsistent work situation. I went for a job interview with the American School, an Israeli company that runs English and test preparation courses. While on this interview, I was referred to the franchise guy, Alex. Alex was a pleasure to deal with and made a great case for starting my own franchise. I thought it over and realized I’d rather sell my own brand.
Two other factors also came into play. One, I saw an Israeli relieving himself on the side of the road. While this is no uncommon occurrence in Israel, I found his choice of place offensive. The man pulled his car over at a bus stop, a good ten to fifteen meters in front of the shelter. Then he walked on back to the shelter to pee behind it.
The third was a coach of mine pointing me in the right direction. Doron is a stand for my success, and keeps me present to what is possible instead of the conversations in my head telling me why things are not. He also helps me notice the difference I make in this world. It has been my pleasure and privilege to touch thousands of lives for the better, as a coach, as a team leader, as a colleague or an employee, as a lawyer, teacher, parent, neighbor and friend. This blog is simply another expression of that in an area where I harbor particular sensitivities.
Then there is a part of me that sees this as a religious mission. I have it firmly stuck in my head that Jews must be a light unto the nations. This is not the vaguely defined duty of one nation to another, but rather a mission we can take on as individuals in every interaction each of us has with the outside world.
In order to reach others, however, it helps for us to be sensitive to their sensitivities. A Jew could be possessed of great knowledge, a love of his land, of his people, mankind and even be possessed of a vision of peace, but if the tourist who has stopped him to ask directions can’t get past the fact that he just spit out a sunflower seed husk on the ancient stones of his holiest of cities, his opportunity to share has been lost, and one more impression may have been made that will dim his - and our - light.
The foundation of manners and etiquette is not to do unto others that which might offend or be considered distasteful. I assert that the key to this is the willingness to look at the world from the perspective of others.
To return to our citizen motorist, I do not fault him for stopping his car to pee (it is accepted practice here), but rather that he should choose to perfume the waiting place of those who do not have his choices for travel. While there are other options - beside his car, for instance - for him to discretely relieve himself, I suggest that he should think of the people who will next have to wait at the bus stop and not add unpleasantness to their journey.
And this brings us to the point. Manners are about thinking how our acts may be received by others. This blog's purpose is to call attention to some of those matters that we don't necessarily notice but that flavor our relations with others, and give some pointers so that we may be better received in this world.