When I was a child, I was often reminded by Mom to behave like a lady. As a 7- or 8-year-old, I was never sure exactly what that meant. I thought it might mean wearing fancy clothes, keeping my pinky up when drinking tea or not saying bad words, at least within her hearing! It turns out, all I had to do was to watch Mom, Gran and Gram and how they behaved to see good examples of what it meant—and means—to be a lady. All three of them; my mother and my maternal and paternal grandmothers, were Ladies, with a capital “L”.
But being a Lady isn’t what you think it is. I would venture a guess; you THINK it means being snooty, but it doesn’t. It does NOT mean having ostentatious manners or behaving like you’re better than everyone else. It does NOT mean looking down on others and being judgmental. It does NOT mean smugly believing you have all the answers. It does NOT mean having a lot of money and flaunting it. Being a Lady does NOT mean you are a colorless wimp with no opinions. And it does NOT mean being a doormat!
What being a Lady actually means is showing respect for yourself and others, not always saying aloud what you’re thinking, not being provocative for the sake of being provocative, saying please and thank you, giving credit where credit is due, not gossiping, giving folks a break, being gracious enough to let someone else have a turn and…. sound familiar? Yes, being a “Lady” sounds like the whole Choral Ethics concept, doesn’t it? You could say being a Lady, or a Gentleman or a Gentleperson, is what Choral Ethics is all about.
I’ve blogged much about saying “thank you” and its corollary, “please.” Those words can mean the difference between your chorus respecting you because you respect THEM and what they do and a group of singers who feel disrespected who will, in turn, disrespect YOU. I’ve also blogged about not always saying what pops into your head to correct your choir just because you think it’s clever. That’s another example of respect/disrespect, hurting the feelings of your chorus for no constructive reason.
I hate gossip. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that. Gossip not only hurts those being gossiped about but makes YOU look bad. Not only will it make you look bad but if the “juicy gossip” you are spreading does not have a basis in truth (and most doesn’t), it makes you look like a jerk by spreading untruths. Gram, Mom’s mother, was all about “not being ugly.” She couldn’t stand gossip (probably where I get that attitude) and would refuse to listen to any ugly hearsay we came up with. It wasn’t just about gossip; it was about unfairness and being nasty. Those behaviors would bring out disappointment and no one wanted to disappoint her!
My Gran, Dad’s mother, would often tell us to give our friends a break. She would tell us we didn’t know what was happening in their lives to cause them to forget a playdate or say something mean or not bring the jump rope. She would scold us and tell us to be kind. Gran would often speak of a friend or relative as being a “Poor Soul” when they seemed to be having a rough time; never would she ever say it was their fault but always tried to lift them up. I think of Gran often when someone is getting on my nerves, her voice coming back to me saying, “you don’t know what they’re going through so be nice.” It’s been especially true during the Pandemic; we don’t really know what others are going through so it’s kindest, and the most “lady-like,” to just give everyone a pass!
Until next week, be well and be safe!
Please join me TOMORROW, Friday, June 11 at 10am (CDT) on ACDA’s Facebook page LIVE. I’ll be speaking with Sundra Flansburg about my Blog, Moderating for ChoralNet and maybe some questions from YOU, since we’ll be live! See you then.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/