I saw the most wonderful T-Shirt a few days ago. It simply said, “A person is not defined by what they believe. They are defined by how the behave.” Brilliant and concise. This phrase sums up what I believe deep in my heart, for we all know people who love to profess this and that, but when it comes to manifesting their own professions, things get tricky. You know the ones I am talking about. They are the people who rant and rave about their personal religious ideals or their political philosophies or their self righteous perspective on others who have fallen short of their standards. They do it loudly at meetings, dinner parties, in waiting rooms (usually on a cell phone), and at church. They do it at ladies luncheons, obligatory professional gatherings and cocktail parties. They do it in airports, at sporting events and all day long on television, radio and, yes, the blogosphere. Yap, yap, yap. They spout their opinions and perspectives about their own beliefs and observations every chance they get. Political opinions abound! Religious fervor fills the air! Sometimes, people do this because they are so self assured of their own opinion that it never occurs to them that someone right next to them may not share it. Maybe they assume that because someone looks, dresses and sounds like them, they must think like them as well. They do it regardless of who is listening or not listening, and they rarely do it in a place that would be appropriate for that sort of verbal volleyball. They do it without regard for (or maybe because of) people in their presence who may not necessarily agree with them, but who are too well mannered to point that out. Sometimes they do not deliver a complete pontification, but surreptitiously drop a derogatory term or tell an off color joke. Sometimes they do it that way because they know better than to go crazy with it for fear of being fired or asked to leave. They have at least that much sense, but still a jagged hook is thrown in the water in hopes of stirring up some common mud. I have finally come to the realization that I really do not care at all, AT ALL, what another person believes. The truth is that it is none of my business. Thoughts that fly through another person’s mind, and the prayers that they do or do not utter on their pillow at night do not affect me one way or another. Frankly, it is arrogant for me to insert myself into something as intimate as another person’s beliefs no matter how right, wrong, dark, twisted, pure or noble they may be. What does affect me and the world around me, however, is how they behave. Do they treat everyone in their path with respect? Do they share their own good fortune? Do they think of others before they think of themselves? Do they forgive? Do they accept a sincere apology with grace? Do they cheat on everything? Do they offer a kind word where no others are heard? Do they? Do they go out of their way to make the odd duck feel welcome, or do they whisper behind their backs so that they can feel superior? Do they return the extra eleven dollars that the cashier/trainee accidentally gave them or do they count it as a lucky strike? Do they sacrifice anything at all for the good of the whole, or do they simply pontificate, criticize and boast. Funny. The older I get, the less I care about what goes on in people’s heads and more about what goes on with their feet, hands and mouths. The older I get, the less I want to know about what people think and more about what they do. Maybe that seems simple minded and maybe it is, but the older I get the more I like it.