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A Secular Sermon
(or, It's About Time Somebody Said It!)
From Your NH/ME Assistant LocSec,
Walter Wakefield
June, 2004

Read it and reap!

Within the past few weeks, I have been approached by four Mensans with complaints about others in our active group. Rather than just accepting them, I asked closely of each person what these complaints were about. Soon, it became apparent that these were not real complaints, but expressions of antipathy. It surprised me that this type of presentment came from several, against several, not a single villain.

While I have been more or less aware of societal discontent at large; we, as the smartest, should be above the fray. There is also fractious discontent of Mensa practices, events, and venues, with little reason. Some long diatribes have been scripted and published, sometimes with meager retractions a short time later, though the damage has already been done, leaving some to wonder why we barbarians exist as an organization at all.

If you must publish vitriol (in any form), at least hold off for a few days before sending it out there. Read it over again and thrice to really ponder if this helps anyone. This is one of the downside characteristics of computers. Public laundering and gossip-mongering should be left to the bottom 2%, not the top 2%. This new way is far too easy to spit venom. Of course, this new psychological tic allows a few to harm many.

A wise Mensan, whose counsel I sought before declaring this, told me that this sort of thing makes many who are exposed to it unhappy, turning the actives into perfunctory robots, eroding our reasons for being. After some considerable thought on why this vitriolic behavior exists at all, I have reasonably found that these feelings come about because of poor interaction, rightfully named social skills and etiquette. Even in our adulthood, we regress to MULTIPLYING slights into larger slights, mirrored through anger and hatred, often presented to others as exaggerated complaints of wrongdoing, or lack of doing when something is perceived not to have been done. Strangely, often those who have the least social skills are the most offended when others don't use them.

We could and should step back and examine how we treat others, both other Mensans and everyone. Some hints:

bullet Be kind.
bullet Control anger.
bullet Do what you say you'll do, soon.
bullet Don't say you'll do something you won't.
bullet Try not to be contrary.
bullet Don't interrupt: listen and learn. Consider yourself satisfied when you get your turn to speak.
bullet Find things to like about your fellow members. Each has many.
bullet When somebody does something good for you, or even not you, show appreciation. For committees, too.
bullet Say hello and goodnight.
bullet Be concerned.
bullet SMILE!

Remember, each of our active members does work for the good of all, and receives NO pay. That person who slighted you might be having a bad day, or worse, letting frustration or anger show. Fortunately, age teaches these hard lessons (and I am aged); but, you yourself can learn now, in your youth. Are social skills really superfluous to high-intelligence people? We all need recognition of our good and our existence. We're all good people with interesting backgrounds. Bless You All.

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