Monday, September 14

Civility is Dead

Tennis champion Serena Williams has an angry outburst at a match where she threatens the line judge. Representative Joe Wilson rudely interrupts the President during his speech to Congress. Kanye West spoils Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV music awards, disagreeing with her award. What do these people have in common? A lack of manners.

Not only is civility dead, but no one seems to miss it. A good measure of any society is how it’s citizens behave toward each other. I don’t know about these folks but I was raised to be polite and though I am just as guilty of lapses ( I cringe whenever I commit a faux paux), one should strive to be courteous. The “golden rule” applies to everyone for a reason.

We live in a culture where people have become self absorbed and impulsive, encouraged by a instantaneous media that guarantees offenders a forum for their actions. No apologies or giving lame excuses are more fashionable than genuine chagrin.

While discussing with friends the reason behind teenagers shooting each other at schools, I offered that the answer was obvious- they learned it from adults. Someone is fired so they go back to kill the manager. A husband or boyfriend shoots his ex. Adolescents are taught this is how adults deal with differences. Pick up a gun and shoot someone. Don’t be surprised when you hear a teenager yelling vulgarities or threatening other with bodily harm. They are being taught by immature grown ups who do the same thing.

We pay lip service to the idea of setting an example for children but we are sadly lacking on delivery. Even when someone misbehaves it’s shrugged off as no big deal. Never mind children, how does the boorish behavior of these people reflect on the rest of us?

In the dojo we are taught to say thank you, to be humble and respect others. Those lessons need to be brought to every daylife and perhaps we can unlearn the bad examples we are setting.

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