I will admit to not remembering much from long ago Sunday school lessons, but I do remember that being gracious to strangers was an important part of life. It was also important in my upbringing. My mother used to tell me stories about getting stuck on the muddy roads to Yadkin County when she visited from the big city of Mount Airy. Often she had to knock on the door of a stranger to see if they could pull her car out of a mud hole.
The door on our farmhouse in Tay Creek, New Brunswick, got many knocks during the worst snowstorms. Many late nights someone would wade through the snowdrifts to ask if I would come pull them out of a ditch full of snow. I never turned anyone down even though I knew it would mean crawling around in sub-zero weather in the snow to get a logging chain hooked to something sturdy before I put one of our 15,000 pound tractors in gear to pull the vehicle out. I never took a dime for helping these strangers.
I have lived near some crazy people in my life, but I have tried to be gracious even to the most challenging of them.
Graciousness goes farther than just helping strangers, it used to define how winners and losers treated each other. Today, it seems that many believe than spitefulness is the way to handle any interaction. If I am winning, let me rub my opponent's face in the dirt for good measure. Is it any wonder that we have a hard time coming together after an election.
Being a gracious winner or loser is part of the process of coming back together so things can get done. Taking your ball and going home is unlikely to be a way to help heal wounds that a game or an election caused. Finding something good in your opponent instead of classifying them as the devil makes life better whether you win or lose.
Even the idea that I have to lose for you to win deserves to be challenged.
If you have forced someone to the point of unilateral surrender, it is unlikely that they will be thrilled to help you.
Graciousness in winning can make losing a lot easier and life more rewarding.