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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: June 28, 2006 - ב' בתמוז, תשס"ו

 
 
 
   
 

I Wouldn’t Want to Live Anywhere Else!
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

If you would ask the average New Yorker to rate their city in etiquette most would rate it as average or below. I know. I’ve done it. My survey was very informal but I probably questioned a good cross-section of the city’s inhabitants and their estimation of NY’s etiquette was none too positive. Yet, when the  Reader’s Digest did a fascinating study on the level of politeness and rudeness in 35 major cities in the world, NY city came in number one in politeness. The fact that NY came in first in something doesn’t surprise me; NY is one of the greatest cities in the world. That NY came in first in politeness out of 35 world wide cities was surprising to me and 70% of US adults who think that people are ruder than they were 20 years ago.
 
In fact, on a recent visit to Sedona, Arizona other tourists asked me a question that amused me. They wanted to know how I live in as nasty and dangerous a place as NY city. At the end of the day, I wonder how well the tourists would have done if a politeness survey was done in their home towns?
 
We know that New Yorkers are heroic, deeply caring, and would give the shirts off their backs for another person, as the whole world witnessed during the 9/11 attacks and its aftermath. However in this survey, being polite was rated by three criteria: holding open the door for someone, picking up papers that were dropped on the floor and the courteousness of the clerks in stores. While NY is a fast paced and competitive city which can bring about a certain harshness and seeming callousness NY’ers came in first in these three basic polite acts. This survey and its implications have left me wondering. Where did our negative view come from?  Why do we view OURSELVES so negatively?
 
Part of the reason why NY has such a negative reputation is because all that is reported is the negative. If all people see and read is the crime, the nastiness, people out to get each other and hurt each other, people ignoring crime even though they watch it take place, that is what outsiders think NY is like. What they don’t realize is that if everyone was like that such actions wouldn’t be newsworthy. The fact is that most NY’ers are great, nice people who will go the extra mile for a fellow human being.
 
Another reason for our negative reputation is because  we underestimate ourselves. We accepted the world view that NY is a nasty place. We don’t fight that reputation or explain to others that most people are not like that. Like people with low self esteem NY’ers believe that NY is a nasty place. We shrug our collective shoulders to the negative reputation and say, “If you say so.” That’s why, we too are shocked that we won first place in a politeness contest instead of saying, “Of course we won! It’s about time someone noticed!”.
 
Even without this survey NY’ers ought to keep their head up high and feel proud of themselves. NY is a great city with so many concerned and giving people.  Certainly now that we’ve won the politeness survey, we should raise our collective positive self-esteem, since we live in the city that’s #1 in more ways than one!
 

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

 

 

 

 
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