Civility and Generosity Go Together

Reflecting on the “9th Commandment”

The 9th Commandment of character development exhorts us to treat others with civility and generosity. And to be of generous spirit, we have to appreciate the value of life. I’ve been talking about the importance of being civil. But now it’s time to give some attention to how important it is to be generous in our dealings with others.

Life Is a Precious Gift Needing Nurturing

Even before the last threat of frost faded last last winter, I noticed the neighborhood turning that beautiful spring green color. But the cold weather left one unwanted souvenir: a new crack in my driveway. As I want to inspect it more closely, I saw a single blade of grass poking its head through. In many ways, life is tenacious, irrepressible. But it’s also fragile, needing just the right nurturing conditions.

A growing blade of grass is very different from a growing, developing person. We can plant grass seed and walk away. You can’t do that with a human baby. Humans require much more than an occasionally watchful eye just to survive. And more than all the other creatures, we need other caring humans to nurture, teach, guide, and defend us.

Babies will die without tender loving care. And children will not develop proper character without the guidance, discipline, and nurturing only civil and generous caregivers and other mentors can provide. Without caring guides to civilize us and help us develop a healthy sense of self, we remain brute animals who only could have been so much more.

Civility and Generosity Go Together

To be fully and authentically human, we must behave with not only civility but also generosity. Civility and generosity go hand-in-hand. Life is a gift – a precious, unmerited miracle. And only when we recognize what a profound gift we’ve been given can we respond with humility. Humility is what prompts us to treat others as we want to be treated. It’s also what compels us to generously pass along the gifts we have received.

True generosity is going beyond what is merely required by humble appreciation. It’s the unselfish act of giving our time, treasure, and most importantly, presence. Some think the more you have, the more generous you can afford to be. But generosity is not merely the philanthropy rich people bestow on the less fortunate. And it involves more than just giving money or material things. True generosity is generosity of spirit. It’s unselfishness that can border on self-sacrifice. It can be as simple as a kind word to an overburdened store clerk. Or it can be as humble as offering cold water to a thirsty stranger or a visit to an aged parent. Yes, it can mean giving money to those in need. But it’s really more about the spirit (and character) of the giver than the need of the recipient.

Next week I’ll be talking about why civility and generosity are so lacking in the disturbed characters of our times.


I’ll be concluding the discussion on the “9th Commandment” over the next couple of weeks. Then, we’ll move on to a discussion of commandment number 10.

Character Matters will be a live broadcast this Sunday at 7 pm Eastern on UCY.TV. I can take your phone calls at (718) 717-8296 or via Skype.

Read more about the 10 Commandments of Character in my book Character Disturbance. And look for The 10 Commandments of Character: How to Build a Significant Life this spring.

20 thoughts on “Civility and Generosity Go Together

  1. In last one year, after realizing how I had been treated by character disturbed people, I had been less civil in interaction. I had been quite often curt or at least snappy even when dealing with normal people at first hint of a manipulative tactic. I guess, this is something that I need to work upon. Maybe I will start with curt responses only to “certified” character disturbed people, and just be assertive otherwise.

    I think I have become better on generosity front (the donation one). It is now more directed and effective. Earlier I used to do bit of charity/donations up to a certain limit, but to anyone who knocks on my door. Now, it is more via people that I know are directly working with needy in local area. I can confidently turn away other not-for-profit organizations knowing fully well that my contribution are now getting utilized very effectively.

  2. These are the kinds of things I am working on. I am a decent person to be around, even when I am under a little stress, but I become cranky when I am at my limit

    Last year I was very sick with the flu and had major business dealings to attend to, at the same time. Due to your blog, Dr. Simon, I was able to get through it while maintaining empathy for those I had to deal with. Being impatient and curt would have created resistance for me and discomfort for those around me, so I knew I had to somehow get beyond it.

    I asked my guides for help and they seemed to be listening too. It was a three month stretch of difficulty that I managed to finesse. I can’t say how I would have performed had it gone on much longer, as I was close to my breaking point. I hope that I would have been able to maintain civility but it’s an unknown.

    Andy, I wonder if it is possible, when you are feeling manipulated to communicate that to the manipulator? We live in a high pressure world with hierarchies of manipulation, where employees are tasked with manipulative sales tactics. If they don’t perform to standard they risk their jobs.

    I have has a few incidents in the last couple of years where I was manipulated into signing up for cable TV that I really didn’t want. After doing some digging I found out that the tech guys who come into your home are also tasked with selling you services. They use shady tactics, omit pertinent info etc..etc… I also found out that the ones who don’t do this, are the first to be laid off, when push comes to shove.

    It’s a terrible double bind for them, as they get hauled onto the carpet when someone like me complains.

    The world is becoming less and less honest and come Inauguration Day, we will be entering into a whole other level of disorder. It scares me.

    1. LisaO,

      When I feel that I am getting manipulated, I simply bark back 🙂
      Example responses:
      – You are lying. Few days back you said this “blah blah”. See your age and consider that I am forced to call you a liar.
      – Thanks and move on. No thanks and move on.
      – That’s an excuse. It was your responsibility, now deal with its consequence.
      I guess the words are fine, but they do not capture my mood when they are spoken… basically being short-tempered, but reaching an scale of just 3 out of 10. Now, I see it, I probably will tone it down.

      In case of cable setup guy acting as salesmen. It is usually nice thing to say flat “No” or maybe “Thanks for letting me know about services. I will call you when I need anything”. Door to door salesmen like it when they know in few seconds that they will not be able to sell anything here. It saves them time to target someone else!

      1. Correction…
        Skilled door to door salesmen like it when they know in few seconds that they will not be able to sell anything here…

      2. Andy,

        I tried to explain this to my mother-in-law once. I told her if a telemarketer was aggressively trying to sell her something, he or she was under pressure to meet a quota and the kindest thing to do is to say, “no thanks. Have a nice day, goodbye” and then hang up. Otherwise, all of the niceties, explanations, protestations, provide them with hooks, which took up her time, and worse, their time, which represents income.

        Having come of age in gentler, more civil times, she thought that this approach was too brusque, rude. Now, we regard it as a kindness!

        I learned a lot from the movie, ‘Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross’ starring Jack Lemon, Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino. The movie highlights how capitalism can degenerate into pathocracy, where people often have to lie or bend the truth and manipulate, in order to survive.

        Glenn Gary and Glenn Ross are new housing subdivisions and the movie’s stars are the real estate agents tasked with selling the houses. Seems like it would be pretty mild fare but it is a brutal psychological and sociological commentary.

  3. I am having difficulty being civil with my daughter. I’m going through enormous stressful situations currently with the manipulative CDN that I’ve been trying to divorce, and I am constantly butting heads with my daughter and I find that I am very short tempered with her. My BF pointed this out to me last week. He said he notices I go from 0 to 10 with her, not in a minute, but like five seconds. He’s right. I have so much unresolved baggage with her that any disagreement escalates my temper immediately. It happened again today.
    At the moment my chest is tight from having dealings with the SB (shitbag) this weekend while trying to ready my home for auction tomorrow. I’ve spent three full days cleaning just the upper level – a home I have not lived in for two years – and I had two incidents with the SB while being at the house cleaning.
    Same with him. I hadn’t spoken to him in two years but maybe three times, and this weekend “spoke” twice. I go from 0 to 10 with him. And of course he baits me, being the disbarred attorney that he is.
    Is it even possible to be civil with the uncivil, conniving, manipulative person? I don’t think it is. That’s why I did the No Contact. But this weekend I was forced into contact and it was ugly. He brings out the ugly in me. I’m so glad neither I or my daughter do not live under his roof anymore.
    Other than the STBX and the daughter, I find myself civil and generous to others, those deserving of it. But I do admit when I encounter un uncivil, mean-spirited person I have zero tolerance and do have difficulty just keeping my mouth closed.

  4. Oh Lucy,

    I am so so sorry you have to go through all of this. It’s terrible. I don’t know if you have ever watched the Jerry Springer show. I have a couple of times, out of morbid curiosity and have thought how awful it would be to end up with a low life, like nearly all the guests on his show, if you aren’t one yourself.

    It’s like your husband is a loud mouth low life who enjoys fighting and you somehow found yourself married to him. And your daughter? That must be so unbelievably hard.

    I hate to say this because it sounds so violent but in some situations and with some people, being civil means not killing them.

    1. LisaO
      It’s very odd. I’m very worried, nervous , anxious when I know he on the area, looking behind my back thinking he might snap and shoot me. Then when I’m in his actual presence, him and me, it’s all I can do to fight the urge to not attack him. I want to rip his head off. I feel myself “surging” towards him. I have to fight the urge to not attack him.

        1. Of course I wouldn’t ever go to that extreme. He baits me, he knows how to push my buttons, and does it with the intention to file a motion against me in court. He always has a game plan. But I k ow his game. While he was videoing me this weekend I thought I’d mention in his video his bloodshot eyes, the names of two of his prostitutes and his gambling. I guess he will have some editing to do if he wants to use it against me. See how uncivil it gets when a CDN is involved. Pure chaos. He brings out the absolute worst in me.

  5. Lucy, I admire your strength and though my natural inclination is to give advice when people are under tremendous stress, I have none to give you that you haven’t heard already.

    The end goal of a manipulator and deceiver, once they have been exposed and feel they might ‘lose,’ is destruction. And though it doesn’t involve absolute physical death, we instinctively perceive it that way…and worse. My personal belief is that dealing with a malicious disordered individual can become a spiritual death battle.

    The person who manipulated and discarded me operated with such intentional casual cruelty, it almost literally blew my mind. I still feel that I suffered a bit of brain damage from it. I have not fully recovered my zeal and curiosity for life. I have become a little listless and apathetic, at times–numb. I am not grieving or angry , nor do I care about what happened anymore. I accept it. But his actions nearly destroyed my spirit.

    They are the tricksters, the demons who present themselves to us as the greatest and gravest obstacles we will ever encounter. To overcome them and remain intact and loving and civil, (in general but not necessarily to them– we aren’t zen masters after all!) is the greatest achievement of all.

    I will be thinking of you and ‘praying’ or whatever it is that I do, for your ongoing strength and loving resilience!

    1. LisaO and Lucy,

      I read your comments and find tears coming to my eyes. Hang in there. I find that sometimes the hardest part to accept is the person I have become after so many years of manipulation. I don’t like myself. Reading that others have been through the same type of ordeal does help relieve some of the pain. I especially can relate to becoming listless and apathetic and yes, numb at times. Even find myself having trouble breathing.

      Lucy I wish you safety and quick resolve with your situation. You are a strong woman and you seem to be nearing the finish line with him. If there ever is a finish line. Keep pushing yourself through and find the strength to cope with your daughter. Just go day by day trying to be strong. We who have lived with a CD have to retrain ourselves to be civil with those who are closest to us. It will be a daily struggle but my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. LisaO, Lucy,

    Something very important you said; your zeal and curiosity for life, listless, apathetic and numb at times. You say you are not grieving or angry and you do not care about what happened. I can relate to this, the CD stole something from us, our spirit? What about that innocence to believe the best in our fellowman.

    Our eyes are forever open, is it the knowledge that we were a party to and witnessing our own destruction that causes this void? We were psychologically raped without conscious knowledge at first, is it the innocent trust we gave, or as you say part of our spirit.

    I am praying Lucy that you do not lose what LisaO speaks of, It is an integral part of your being you need to keep living a full life. I know what you speak of LisaO and it leaves me without words to explain the depth by which it has affected me.

    Speaking of what they do goes beyond a Trickster, this is sheer “Evil” in it natural state, they are not human, they are the undead and thrive on stealing our life source from us.

    Lucy, Hold fast to your soul/spirit, protect yourself with all your might. For now, anyone that wants or needs your positive energy from you, let them go, you will need all of you for the up coming battles.

    Stay Strong Lucy!

  7. Hi Btov!!

    Great thoughts, as usual! Thanks so much.

    The soul and spirit are at the centre of this ‘dance macabre’. We are gently danced into light and love by an angel. As we bask in the light, the scene suddenly darkens and before we know it we realize we have been danced to the edge of a cliff and tossed off of it, backwards. As we fall we hear the maniacal laughter of the trickster.

    It was all theatre. The dance was an emotional exercise to test our souls. The deception tested our wits. We are changed forever.

    Lucy, you will prevail. These experiences refine the souls of those who can bear them.

    Btov, I have a mild case of PTSD from my earlier life. I think the P experience added to it a little. But for all it took from me, I am even more determined to make sure it gives back to me, by giving me the discernment to see and understand the pain others go through. And so many have it so much worse than I do, on many levels.

    When I see that pain, I will try to help, in any way I can. I have had great success in this arena in just the last year. In that way, I have utterly defeated the sadist whose laughter I heard after being hurtled off my own cliff.

    Btov, I know you are of the same spirit. Nothing is going to squelch all that is good, civil and deeply human about you.

    Lucy, you are the same. After you get through this terrible time, you will be even stronger and more compassionate.

    As for now, you have to focus on getting through it and being patient with yourself for not living up to yours or others unfair expectations of exemplary behavior and thought. You are in a war zone with the most hardened type of enemy there is.

  8. LisaO,

    Ahhhh… PTSD, I have that too, I was sexually assaulted almost 30 years ago, leaving me crippled with panic and anxiety attacks which I still have to a lesser degree today. The PTSD actually helped me to survive. I found a way in part to let the PTSD work for me, many times it gives me an uncanny perception of feeling danger and has never failed me.

    The CD never meant for me to go over the cliff, however, the goal was to keep me at the very edge, barely, alive, like a spider keeping its prey alive so it would never run out of sustenance. Then one day I side stepped and the CDNSP went over the cliff to hit the bottom, only to find footing to climb the sides again.

    It has been a battle of stamina to withstand the onslaught of terror the MSpath can spew, the tangled mess has taken years to unwind and still isn’t resolved. These apparitions of humans are cunning and dangerous. Once in your life it is almost impossible to remove them completely.

    Yes, it does make one more compassionate and understanding to the plight of others who are still in the fog of who and what they are involved with. There is no dealing or reasoning with the CD in any capacity except from a position of strength and truth. Strength is operating in the the realm of NC, using the proper authorities and laws, not giving an inch and holding them accountable for every action.

    LisaO, the goal of the CD is to wear you out, it is important to have a strong support network, however, normal people and ones own family, many times don’t want to get involved and don’t have the understanding of the many facets these toxic relationships entail.

    Most definitely a war zone of the worst kind, and the CD know and make it that way, hoping they can intimidate others from helping or being kind to you. Unfortunately, we are blamed in part for the CD’s actions, the rationale being, without us they could never have gotten this far, therefore, we are at fault too. To make things worse it is easier to lay blame at our feet, the victims, rather than at the CD……

  9. Sydney,

    I wanted to say “dittos” and thank you for your comment to a CD manipulator. The last place I ever want to feel like I am in the snare of of one of these corrupt individuals is on this blog. I can tell you the verbiage and insults used would be an automatic bar from ever walking in a Woman’s Resource Center again.

    The name calling , derogatory labels, accusatory judgement s and the blame game resonate so vividly in my being. From when I was a child I heard this and it still is a know tactic and sick game the toxic CD play to this very day. When caught their actions turn to playing dumb and a victim. Don’t fall for it.

    Many of us have lived our whole with lives with these twisted individuals and have fallen pray to them for various reasons. The majority of CD are drawn to us for the very reason we are strong individuals because they are weak!!!! We are also blessed with empathy, kindness, decency, loveliness, forgiveness and so many positive traits the CD do not have and it is by their choice, so instead of cultivating these decent traits/gifts they deceitfully piggy back ours.

    Civility and generosity, hm…. I don’t believe the CD have these traits/common decencies either, perhaps though these traits are displayed and used albeit for an ulterior purpose.

    Sydney, good counsel to ignore the trolling CD that wander in with ill intent. I recommend these name calling CD find a good psychotherapist and work out their emotional baggage instead of dumping and blaming individuals on this blog who have already suffered way to much. It also is not within our power to counsel them and hope they see things differently, whatever we say will not make the difference, uninformed decent people, don’t insult others, call names and blame………………..

  10. Joey,

    Haven’t seen a post from you lately and miss your input, you add so much.
    I hope you are well and perhaps enjoying a holiday . Always appreciate and look forward to one of your poem selections too.

    Be well and blessings

  11. Lucy /BTOV/LisaO/Andy et all………. Looks like we’ve all had to come into contact with our respective CDs of late. They are energy vampires of the highest order. The energy they omit is so disturbingly gut renching – I cant think of any other way to describe it, they are literally sucking the life force out of you and I have to agree with what has already been said – they are trying to attack our spirit connection and break it.

    I had two very unpleasant encounters yesterday myself. The first one was with the CD woman who lives around here. She did all the usual things the name calling, the derogatory labels, the attempted put downs i.e. “nobody likes you” “you stink” etc. -shakes head- Not only pathetic, but malicious to the core and extremely childish. I have found out about a couple of others she’s done the same thing to. When she was in full flight, I just stayed calm (and man is that hard!) and just kept saying – oh your little inner demon wants to come out and play, yes there you are I can see you, keep it coming let all that self hatred and menace out so I can see it, just keep revealing yourself to me” and I’m using a hand gesture to signal keep talking. Then I said oh by the way I know what you did to X. That stopped her dead in her tracks and she flew out in a rage.

    She was raging still for a couple of hours after she got home and texted X and let loose with a torrent of vile abuse. She messaged me later so I called her to see if she was okay. She was extremely shaken up and we had a long talk. She still feels sorry for her because she thinks she’s had a bad childhood. While that might be the case I have to agree with Dr Simon, they are aware of their natures and they behave like this out of choice to do so not because it’s unconscious.

    Then to top it all off the old bloke who is in my care and who is on the autism spectrum started with his menacing behavior. But he was using covert manipulation where the other one was just doing the abusive name calling. I can’t stomach all this malice. It seems to come in waves. They were out in force last night that’s for sure. Must have been the full moon. I’m going to have to speak to my psychiatrist friend again and get some advice on him because it’s getting to the point where I am finding him intolerable. His behavior is different to hers though insomuch as I think he’s learned his manipulative tactics from his father they appear (only appear) to be largely unconscious. He became really bad last night, where he would not back down and just go to bed. He kept coming out on the attack again and again. There does not appear to be any logical trigger for this, he just lashes out suddenly and without warning. I’ve had words to him this morning. Kept him focused on his behavior and would not allow him to use diversion tactics. I was very gentle but firm in my delivery. He is now reading Emotional Alchemy.

    It never ceases to amaze me though how this menace just comes out of nowhere. You can revise events leading up to it looking for possible triggers then come up empty. What could I have said or done to get a reaction like this etc. I’ve come to this realization through experience – you don’t have to do a damn thing, they are purely and simply a menace.

    Regardless of all of that I hope everybody had an enjoyable festive season and big huggzzzzzzzz to everyone who has had their CD dose of torment and malice unleashed. I wish they would all just go into extinction.

    1. Welcome back Eudox,

      Yes, for some reason the CD are out in force causing problems. The siblings have really made a mess with my sis’s life and then they tell her I am a moronic idiot. I just ignored them and let them foam at the mouth, bad mouthing me to the doctors and social workers.

      The one sis actually hired a lawyer to take me to court, after talking with me the lawyer told them they would have to find someone that is willing to represent liars as she has a reputation to protect. The lawyer said I am sorry you have to deal with this, I said its always been this way, God gave me the job of being the kind caring one. so I make sure my disabled sis is taken care of properly.

      I hope I find someone like me that will care for me. Perhaps a nice gentleman. Seems our Teresa Marie may have found one. Hi Theresa, we miss you, you livened things up for awhile and so full of good thoughts and energy. Life is so nice when dignity, respect and kindness is added to the mix. Being around these kinds of people brings joy and peace and a calming state. ((((((HUGS))))))) to you sister.

      1. Big HUGGZZZZZZZZZ right back BTOV – I can’t be kept away for too long, I did drop by on occassion but things got hectic and visitors etc so what can I say.

        I think God made many of us this way BTOV. And the CD’s are definately out there in full force. I think we have to endure these trials so we can transcend that immoral disposition society places on us. We have a purpose for being here and it’s not to consume every resource on this planet like locusts. Although there are many out there. Through our own trials and tribulations we have become decent human beings with dignity and respect for not only ourselves but others.

        I am still reeling about the malice demonstrated by CD individuals – I believe it makes us truly blessed. Imagine what happens when CDs bond with each other Marion Crane meet Norman Bates!!!!!!!!!!!!!! eeekkkkkkk

        That’s why I say we are blessed.

        Bless you too my friend huggzzzzzzzzzzzz

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