Courtesy at Convention

By Laurie Stroupe

You may recall from previous posts that I sit right on the fence between introversion and extroversion. I find social gatherings both exhilarating – for a while – and then exhausting. Needless to say, I came home from Convention over my limit for social interaction and craved some alone time.

I’ve been reflecting on what makes ARBA Convention so draining. I think it is because there are so many circles drawn around groups which exclude others. It’s certainly not one big happy family! Sometimes, people have had a falling out and no longer interact with each other. But other times, people are excluded just because they view things differently.

I expect all people to agree on just a few very basic issues.

I cannot fathom anything else. You don’t strike people, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat.

Then there’s this absolutely huge area where I can be friends with, or at least friendly with, people even if they hold a different opinion: co-ops are/are not always a good thing, it’s okay/not okay to show a DQ rabbit, it’s okay/not okay to show a rabbit I just bought, it’s okay/not okay to show a rabbit until it has 300 legs, going after points is the most important/least important part of showing, it’s okay/not okay to show at more than one show on the same day, etc. I don’t expect my friends to agree with me on everything.

But there seem to be individuals who operate at the level that if you don’t agree with them, then they’ll treat you as if you don’t exist (or will be openly hostile to you).

I love our Holland Lop district 9 director. He’s a great guy. But one of the things that makes him a wonderful director is that he is willing to present ideas to the board whether he agrees with them or not. In order to do that, he has to accept the notion that it is okay to have opposite viewpoints. He is willing to represent others, not control. I like that.

Now we come to the hardest group of conflicts.

There are some principles that people hold that I just cannot agree with. I cannot be friends with these people and I cannot understand how my friends can be friends with them. These are the people who are shady in their business dealings. These are the people who are rude to people on a consistent basis (we all go south sometimes). These are the people who criticize, complain, and cause trouble but never lift a finger to help, solve, or change things.

Even so, I will be polite and cordial to such folks. And I will never require my friends not to be friends with these people. And I expect the same in return. This is simply common courtesy.

I think that it is odd that some people get a reputation for causing trouble, being rude, or being unfriendly. Then they are sort of issued a pass to act that way without repercussion. “Well, that’s just the way they are,” people will say. But let a person who is normally kind, friendly, or at least not a problem have a bad moment, and everyone is all over them, unforgiving and confrontational.

I had such a moment at Convention.

A box of used shavings was under my grooming table when I came in to feed. It especially irritated me after all of the trips back and forth to the trash can I had made when I cleaned my coops. I shoved it out of the way and went about my feeding. About 30 or 40 minutes later, I found it under my table again. I was very irritated at whoever loaded up that box and left it lying around, just to be shoved back and forth. I kicked it out of the way. I admit for a moment, I was very angry and I put a little more into it than necessary.

But that would have been my sole expression of anger at Convention and would have been over in a second. But no, the two closest people decided to be confrontational about it. It’s unfair that some people can yell, curse, and cause all kinds of turmoil and they get a free pass. I go south for three seconds and folks want to be confrontational about it.

I don’t know what the solution to these issues is. I certainly can’t control others – I have enough of a job trying to control myself! I tend to retire from such situations. Luckily, I have no need to be with the “in” crowd. I have a large enough group of true friends that I enjoy being with. I’m happy enough just by myself and my bunnies, too.

My job, as I see it, is to be polite to all.

I make the conscious choice to allow my friends a wide variety of opinions and points of view. You don’t have to agree with me on all counts to be my friend. I do have a few limits, though; I can’t be true friends with all. To be a friend of mine, you just have to treat folks with common courtesy, not cheat, steal, or strike, and allow me to be who I am.

If we can’t be friends or friendly, we can still be cordial.