September 8, 2004
Friend's parents provide graciousness
You write about integrity and the Eight Attributes.
One attribute is graciousness. Where is graciousness
learned? Are there examples? What difference does it
Graciousness, which can be defined as respect and discipline,
is learned by constructive examples and positive role
models. A friend and I were discussing where he learned
the importance of graciousness, and he, with moist eyes,
passed along this story from his growing-up years. With
his permission, we present his story. It changed him
touched me and maybe it will transform and teach those
who read it now:
"My father and mother owned a small 'mom and
pop' grocery store in the tough neighborhood, all Mexican
and all poor, where my brothers and I grew up in
south El Paso, Texas. My parents had inherited the
store from my paternal grandparents, who had emigrated
from Mexico in the early 1900s. On Sunday nights during
the spring and summer months, my parents would show
free movies to the neighborhood that surrounded (and
patronized) their store."
"My father would use impromptu barriers to keep
traffic from in front of the store. Our neighbors
did not complain about the street closure because they were
all in attendance at the movies, too. My parents
owned a movie projector, and my father constructed a makeshift,
portable screen that he propped up against the
store's front wall. Dad would rent the films from a movie-rental
"On Sunday nights, everyone from throughout the
neighborhood brought their own chairs and blankets.
The children would also receive a free scoop of ice cream
from our store (my brothers and I were very
popular with our peers -- at least on Sunday nights)."
"Mom and Dad operated that small grocery store
until they retired in the early 1980s. All that time,
the store was never the subject of a theft or a robbery, even when
my parents -- by then elderly -- would work
at their store late into the evening."
"They were gracious with their customers, and their
customers were gracious with them. In return, my
parents continued my family's tradition, begun by my grandparents,
of being good merchants, honest and gracious. My
parents are proof that doing the right thing in business pays
So, what does this story mean? Doing the right thing,
graciously, has both short- and long-term benefits.
Being kind, thoughtful, patient and helpful will, over
the longer haul, build relationships, community, trust
and hope. Demonstrating care and concern for all of
those with whom we associate sustains the integrity
of all institutions: marriage, family, friendships,
community and society.