|Thanks IMBD for the image!|
All right the title of this post may be somewhat of an overstatement but I think there is a solid piece of advice found in that 80's comedy classic (not to mention that it is Keanu Reeves best work).
"Be Excellent to Each Other!" This great philosophy is shared a few times during the movie--once by a council of individuals from the future who advise Bill and Ted and their time travel and Abraham Lincoln when he brought was to the future to speak at an assembly for Bill and Ted.
As goofy as this movie is and as goofy as it sounds to have Abraham Lincoln say "be excellent to each other," I think that it is a message that most of us could use.
We live in a time where civility has become outdated and can often be viewed as a sign of weakness. We have stopped being "excellent to each other." As we all strive to assert our dominance, secure our place, and make our way in this so called "dog-eat-dog" world we have become more willing to maim who we have to maim, disrespect who we have to disrespect, and generally do what we have to do to ensure that "we get ours."
All in all we find ourselves in a time and place where it is more acceptable to be disrespectful and uncivil. Our world is now laced with new technologies where we can be a jerk/bully/not excellent anonymously. This freedom has given many a people a "new courage" to speak their mind. These practices, however, are not limited to anonymous comment. These behaviors can be found anywhere from CSPAN to ESPN, Fox News to MSNBC, I-15 to personal interactions, work to home to Facebook. Everywhere we go we are faced with people "not being excellent to each other."
So what do we do? How can we have a return to civility? Sometimes when I try to answer questions like this about other problems I get lost in what I should be doing to make the problem better, but in this case I am thoroughly convinced that each of us can have a great impact on this issue wherever we go. It all starts with us choosing to "be excellent to each other." Or, in other more eloquent (scriptural) words, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger ... A wholesome tongue is a tree of life"(Proverbs 15:1&4). There are dozens more scriptures I could quote that talk about the power of words, but for now one is enough.
In a time when it is "cool" to be rude to the people around you (especially if you disagree with them) I hope we can ask ourselves "how can I be more 'excellent' (insert civil/respectful, whatever you’d like) to all those that I interact with?" As we try to do this we will find more civility returned to us. Kindness begets kindness and excellence begets excellence dudes! Party On!