This morning, I was watching the Today Show, and they had as one of their topics ‘What Has Happened To Civility?’ Anyone who has read what I have to say from time to time on Facebook knows that this is one of my pet peeves in politics and life in general.
All you have to do is look at the political ads out there to see what is wrong. They are filled with half-truths and out and out lies about each other. Charges of being a law breaker, not being a citizen, being soft on crime, being a Communist, a racist, you name it. At the end of these attack ads is usually a disclaimer saying that the ad was paid for by one concerned citizens group or another. These people don’t even have the guts to take credit for their own smears. They have to have a cover to take the blame.
Of course, this does not just belong to the sleazy politicians, this happens in every day life, too. You can’t have a civilized discussion about anything political anymore without it turning ugly and hurtful. How many friends have any of you lost because either they don’t agree with your political views, or you don’t agree with theirs? Charges of being a pinko or a Fascist fly fast and hard, even at people that have proudly served their country, just because they: A) Support the President, or B) Don’t Support The President. If you are in favor of healthcare for all, you are called a Socialist. If you don’t support it, you are called an Elitist. You can’t win unless you just sit back and say nothing. You have to refuse to be drawn into the discussion, and then it is said that there is something wrong with you because you don’t have an opinion.
I actually have had personal experiences with this. I had an old friend de-friend me on Facebook and block my emails because I had the audacity to ask him to tone down the rhetoric. He called me a whacko and said that I was always a whacko. We recently made up and agreed not to discuss politics again. I had a woman get incensed at me because I said that I admire Nelson Mandela for being able to forgive the people that imprisoned him for 30 years and practiced institutional racism against the majority of his countrymen. He avoided a bloodbath when he came to power, and I admire him for having the intelligence and the love in his heart to do this. I was called a communist and a few other choice words because of this. She also de-friended me (No loss), but not before slandering me to all of my friends. I just let it go and moved on.
Getting away from politics, just take a look at everyday life. We used to draw the line at uttering obscenities in public. When I was young, if you used an off color word in mixed company, you were severely admonished for it publicly. Not anymore. Recently, a woman slapped a man at the US Tennis Open because he kept using the ‘F’ word in front of her. Words were exchanged back and forth, she slapped him, he said something else, and her elderly husband went after him. All of them were ejected and arrested. Obscenities are regularly used in what passes for music today, from hip-hop and rap, to R & B. Television shows in the so-called family hour are full of sexual references and swear words. Of course, there are still a few that cannot be used over the airwaves, but on cable nothing is off limits at any hour.
Now, I have no problem with adult entertainment. If you don’t like it, you can turn it off. I’m just saying that it should be kept to hours when young children should be in bed. Sex should be kept to HBO and Cinemax and the pay channels. If you want it, pay for it. I would still watch it, but not with young children around.
We should go back to having civility in our daily lives. Being courteous to each other, saying please and thank you, you’re welcome.. is this really just too much to ask. Is it too much to ask that we treat each other with respect? Simple things, like putting down the cell phone when you are in the store, at least when you are on the check out line, would go a long way to restoring some sort of decorum to our everyday lives. Saying 'Please' and 'Thank You' would go a long way in changing attitudes of people that you encounter every day. If you don't believe it, just try it. That surly checkout clerks attitude will change, and you may even get a smile. I know, because I do this every day, with every person that I have an interaction with. When I go into the market, the people who work there smile when they see me. Why, because I treat them with the respect that I would like to get from everyone that I meet, and I ALWAYS say 'Please' and 'Thank You'. I go out of my way to hold the door for people. I get a 'Thank You' about 3 times out of 4, but the point is that I make myself a better person by doing this. Just try it, if you don't do it already. Try, just for one day, to curtail the swearing and hostility. I think that the quality of our lives would change measurably.
I just would like to see us go back to treating each other with decency and respect, like we were all taught as kids. Is this really too much to ask?