It is astounding how many people have forgotten the act of courtesy. It is a simple thing. It simply means to stop thinking about yourself for a moment and think about someone else, especially when you are with them. That is the time to be thoughtful and demonstrate courtesy.
One of the greatest acts of courtesy is not interrupting the person talking to you. Allow them to finish their thought before you begin to respond. If you are the speaker, then pause from time to time so that others have an opportunity to speak, as well. However, courtesy does not mean letting everyone else have the floor at your expense.
I hope you see that I am not suggesting or promoting sacrifice of self so as to be considerate of others. It is bad enough that there are so many who already suffer from that concept. They think that if they do for everyone else first then they, in turn, will be cared for. The concept of sacrifice is well ingrained in our society today because of religious indoctrination. If there is something to be truly sacrificed in order to be saved or forgiven it is the ego. This one word, which applies to everyone, is the true bane of all societies and has been for millennium. Until we understand Self and learn to control our emotional responses and our ego’s wants, needs and desires, some will be consumed with the concept of sacrifice.
There is another major downside to sacrifice; it is reciprocation. When people sacrifice there is an underlying hope that the person for whom they have sacrificed will not only appreciate it but will also honor and cherish and be grateful for the sacrifice. Sometimes the reciprocation takes so long to manifest, if it ever comes, that disappointment occurs. The disappointment can lead to resentment which leads to anger. That anger can trigger an event in the relationship that makes the person feel guilty. The guilt makes them sacrifice even more as atonement and the cycle begins anew.
I would say to give without expecting anything in return. However, I understand the human mind to some degree, and it would take an incredibly enlightened being to do for others without expectation of something in return.
I know that some of you are thinking that there are spiritual teachers and masters who give without expectations. Is it possible that the expectations are so ingrained in those that are being “given” that they are reciprocating without realizing it?
Then there is the expression WAM (What About Me?). This borders on self-indulgence if not modified by care and concern for others. If you choose to practice WAM do it with common courtesy and love.
The energy of courtesy is just like bread. It provides sustenance to many and has the unique ability to be cast upon the waters and it comes back to you. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Ecc 11:1 KJV)