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Class Acts

One of my favorite authors, Rudyard Kipling, once said: “Real class can walk with kings and keep its virtue and speak to crowds and still keep the common touch.” Surely, everyone has had the experience of having been snubbed or ignored. It hurt! It mystified and made us feel inadequate at some point. Then, there may have been times when we’ve socially miss stepped or said something not meant the way it was perceived. But, real class never runs scared. It can handle whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machine of human relations. Humor can disarm the ugliness of a difficult situation.

I can think of Lady Diana, who was born into privileged circumstances and was married into surroundings of even higher standards of privilege; yet she made herself available to people of every social standing, accepting the smallest tokens from children and the elderly with uncommon grace. She smiled despite her heartaches, adored her children, and never let her inner hurt affect them. She kept up with what was expected of her but with a very natural, unaffected behavior towards those around her. There was a very classy lady!

Class doesn’t make excuses. It takes its lumps and accepts learning from past mistakes. Class denotes an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. Some ‘wealthy’ blue bloods have no class at all while some individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it. Class cannot be faked. Classy people never put on airs, or try to build themselves up while tearing others down because they are already up there. People are comfortable with people with class because that person is comfortable with themselves and shares it.

I think of Sammy Davis Jr. who danced like a miracle of talent, his acting roles in the few movies he played in were profound and as mesmerizing as the performances of the world renowned Sir Lawrence Olivier. Yet, being skinny and African American with a benign character, he was easy pickings and physically abused badly while in the army, suffering broken noses three times. Shunned by many directors, ridiculed and belittled by a famous popular singer who used him like a slap-stick joke, he persevered and came out of it all like the trooper he was, never hurting back or using retaliatory schemes against anyone. Being African American, he was used and abused, but his humor and good manners never failed him. Searching for acceptance both privately and publically, he kept his cool. Class doesn’t need to strive to look better than others by making others look worse. Find me a classier act!

If you have class, you’ve got it made. You’re special! You can handle whatever comes along with the same strength and fortitude as Lady Diana and Sammy Davis, Jr. You’re mentally so steadfast and grounded you could put the most recommended psychologist out of business. Whether a hot dog salesman or champion athlete or president, if you haven’t got class, no matter what you achieve in your life, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. In the end the truth always shows up!

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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