Wisdom Story – 138

I walked with a friend to the newsstand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the owner politely. The owner, however, did not even acknowledge it.

“A sullen fellow, isn’t he?” I commented as we walked away.

“Oh, he’s that way every night,” shrugged my friend.

“Then why do you continue being so polite to him?” I asked.

And my friend replied, “Why should I let him determine how I’m going to act?”



  1. Simon says

    Well that is absolutely true. Being who we want to be and not letting the environment impact on our behaviour is a test. Unfortunately I am all too willing to give a bit of negative feedback if someone is rude to me :-(

    Hopefully, with God’s help, we can all have a weekend full of positive feedback – whatever the provocation :-)

  2. says

    I love this story! If only we could adopt that attitude throughout our day. If only we could always remember who (whose) we are – no one would be able to rob us of our inner peace and joy.

  3. Maura says

    We have a similar saying in our family “Don’t let yourself become what you stand against.”
    I know in the world of politics it seems simplistic but I often wonder if we are not as a nation becoming in our foreign relationships what we say we stand against.

    • Jim says

      The foreign-policy perspective came immediately to my mind, too. One of the classic excuses for human cruelty is that the horrible thing we’re doing to our enemy is no worse than what they would do to us, given the chance. Another is that doing the right thing is a luxury we cannot currently afford. (People who invoke this excuse must find the cost of morality very high, indeed, for they never think we can afford it.)

  4. Lynda says

    There is such a life lesson in this for we allow our culture to determine what we do all the time rather than being counter-cultural. Imagine what would happen in our world if all who follow Jesus began to live like Jesus – if we all truly saw people and truly listened.

    Have a blessed weekend everyone.

  5. says

    Amen! Or as I tell my kids how you react to people says more about you than about them…be kind. I think the sullen ones are the ones who need that the most anyway.

    “Love those who are unlovable or it is not love at all”

      • Jim says

        “Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all – and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.” -Gilbert K. Chesterton

  6. says

    I have carried this with me since I was really young, so I didn’t know off hand. I assumed it was Mother Teresa but I googled it and it was GK Chesterton. I am sure I have heard it from Mother Teresa too but it must be that she was quoting him! And the actual quote ends “or it is no virtue at all.” I am pretty excited that Chesterton has been sealed on my heart for so long! Didn’t see that coming. :)

  7. Emma says

    Vendors and store clerks and such, I can shrug off. It’s those who I expect more from that can elicit a less than loving response from me. I’d like to think that I’m better than that, but a rude or sullen remark from someone that I’m close to can ruin my day. :(

  8. Jim says

    I’m right there with Emma. I can overlook rudeness from someone I’m not close to. I can assume the best about them. If it’s my wife who’s being sullen, though, my first response is always defensive anger.

    I’m learning to check that anger and concern myself with her problems, but it still often takes me 15 minutes or so to even think about not being mad.

    • Emma says

      How did you know that I was talking about my husband?? My issue is that what can be something so insignificant will be the something that I’ll carry all day long. The “little ” thing in the morning grows throughout the day and by the time we meet up again, the little has become monumental!! He, on the other hand, is past it!! My mantra, ” You don’t even remember??? ” Only makes me more angry that he’s forgotten all about it, while I wasted my whole day absorbed in that one unpleasant passing moment.

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