No. 1253 -- DO YOU HAVE CLASS?

No. 1253



Some time ago, my wife and I attended a graduation exercise for a class of nurses at one of our fine hospitals in nearby Little Rock. Near the end of the program, the head instructor read something titled, “What is class?” It was so good that I went to her afterwards and asked for a copy of it.
In today’s times, we often hear it said of someone that they have “class”, but have you ever thought about what the word “class” really means when it’s used in this way? Well, in layman’s terms, the person who has class is just someone who has good manners in all situations, especially when they are hurt or wronged in some way. As you read this article about “class,” it might be well to think about it as it relates to your life.
“Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident that you can meet life head-on and handle whatever comes along. Class never makes excuses; it takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes. Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of petty sacrifices.
“Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent blue blood can be totally without class, while the descendant of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore. Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
“Class can walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class, because he is comfortable with himself.
If you don’t have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make much difference.”
To me, the contents of this article has a way of penetrating to the depths of my very soul. I especially like the thought “class never makes excuses, it takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.” Wouldn’t we all be better off if we could learn to do that?
I know many times when I have failed to do something, I usually try to find a way to justify my actions. Then I say, “I did it because ...” In some cases, I’ve said to myself, “I wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t been for so-and-so.” All I was doing was trying to transfer the blame for my own failure to someone else.
We should never be too hard on ourselves, because if we do that on a regular basis all we are doing is putting ourselves down, and the result will surely be low self-esteem. We do, however, need high standards, because it’s the only way to improve.
When it comes to personal accountability and establishing a standard for personal behavior, I don’t believe you can improve on the qualities mentioned in the article on class. Ask yourself, “Do I have class?” If you don’t, would you like to have it? Of course it takes much more than just saying it to make it so, but the first step is to start acting like a person who has class. Who knows? It may be the beginning of a whole new way of living and a source of encouragement to those around us.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)