If you are a stranger, act like one

Today’s Delphic Maxim is: if you are a stranger, act like one. This is timely! This summer is riddled with house guests and travels. I’ll be meeting a lot of my husband’s extended family for the first time. I’m not a stranger, but for all practical purposes I am. This maxim is a reminder to mind one’s manners.

I’m big on manners. I think please, thank you, excuse me are all valuable phrases. I think being timely and helpful also important. This maxim isn’t just about being a house guest, I can see how this is good advice when a person is introduced to new community – and especially important if one cares about white/male privilege.

Very often minority voices are silenced, dismissed, or intimidated by white/males. Being an ally to a minority group that one is not part of requires acting like a stranger: listening, asking how I can be of help, remembering that I am guest in another’s community. Oh yeah, and more listening.

Watching and listening, whether at a new job, in a new community, a a guest in a house, is always a safe bet. It’s polite, it’s informative, it’s wise.We are all strangers at some point. When we are, it’s a good idea to act like one.

About Niki Whiting
  • Jen

    What an interesting maxim! I’ve always heard the advice from the other direction–welcome the stranger–and I’ve never encountered advice *for* the stranger.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Good manners go both ways! The Maxims are really interesting. Some of them seem obvious advice, others deeply spiritual. But I think it’s a false dichotomy that the spiritual and the mundane are not one and the same. 12 maxims down, one hundred and thirty something left to go!