I was going to write a post about manners and general rudeness after one of my new neighbours said to me rather curtly, “I don’t have time to talk.”
She said this apropos of nothing at all except a smile from me. I was actually preoccupied at the time, gardening. I didn’t utter a word. But her comment shocked me. Whatever happened to manners?
For the record, I’m not a talker. I like quiet and solitude and have a healthy respect for privacy. I think courtesy is underrated and aspire to treat people well. I’m tired of those who don’t. Of dog owners who don’t leash their out-of-control dogs or pick up after them. Of people who leave their garbage lying about. Of those who yell into their cell phones or get into the 8 items or fewer aisle with 28 items. Of people who harp on about how busy they are (the highly infectious busy-ness pandemic) or those that want to talk about how remarkable they are. I’m tired of the general lack of kindness.
But then yesterday, I drove past a neighbourhood park in Kingston and I saw something that reaffirmed my faith in people. There were a couple of dozen community-minded citizens out spending their Sunday morning picking up rubbish and raking the grass and working in the park. These were families with their children and strollers and dogs. They were obviously volunteering and keeping their neighbourhood clean – picking up after those who won’t pick up after themselves. They were making the world a better place. And they made me want to be a better person too. When I walked my dog last night I picked up rubbish along the way and brought it back to the garbage bin.
Then I read this article in the UK Daily Mail quoting a study which says the best way to deal with rudeness is to turn the other cheek and treat it with silence. The study found that people who completely ignore those who are rude and offensive were more mentally healthy than those who engage with them.
So next time my neighbour does or doesn’t have time to talk, I’ll just smile and remain silent. Perhaps overcoming bad manners is the real test of good manners. And apparently, it’s good for you too.
Seems like a good time to start talking about lentils. Because like picking up garbage in the park, like overcoming bad manners, like disarming people with courtesy – lentils are also good for you. Seriously. Lentils are really healthy. They’re do-gooder food. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the fact that lentils are just not photogenic. But they are cheap and tasty and healthy and low impact on the planet. And combined with rice or another whole grain – they make a perfect vegetarian protein. You can make this from scratch with dry lentils and rice but I’m generally throwing it together at the last possible second and find canned lentils pretty handy.
Enjoy. Do good in the world. Smile and say hello. Pick up rubbish. And eat more lentils.
Lentils with Rice
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 cups water or vegetarian stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large can of lentils, rinsed thoroughly
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp tamari or soya sauce
- black pepper
Bring the rice, water or stock, and salt (use only a pinch of salt if you’re using stock instead of water) to the boil. Stir. Turn off the heat, cover and don’t even look a the rice for 20 minutes. You can use brown rice too of course but the cooking time is longer.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook a further 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked rice and the washed lentils. Stir to combine. Add the tamari and season with black pepper (and if you’re not vegan – go ahead and top it with some grated parmesan cheese). Serve with a green salad and a hearty loaf of bread.