By Dr. T
Civility, graciousness, politeness, decorum, morality and dignity are all words that describe what is commonly known as just plain decency. It is certainly something one should strive to embrace as a part of the way we live our lives and conduct human interactions with one another. And yet, in this new age of social media sound bytes, trending topics and “virtual” interactions, the ability to have actual conversations and real-life human exchanges seems to be steadily eroding with the rapidity of the polar ice caps. This erosion has been happening so progressively with each passing decade that we have become accustomed to how completely it impacts our culture, and now we may have become resigned to it being “just the way things are.”
It seems that there is less and less time for kindness one to another or treating each other with deference or with a sense of recognition of our common humanity. We are more likely to be irritated and short-tempered with someone rather than to be patient and courteous. People no longer say hello or good morning as they enter a space where others may be gathered. Please and thank you have disappeared from our daily discourse, even from those who make their living in the “service industry.” We are less likely to hold the door open for someone coming behind us or give up our seat to an elder person in these days and times than in times past. We are certainly capable of rising to the occasion when tragedy strikes or some type of cataclysmic event. And, we are just as likely to toot our own horns when these big events happen, as we take to twitter and other social media outlets to tout our largeness of spirit and goodwill towards men.
When name calling, ill-tempered and mean-spirited “put downs”, racial and ethnic slurs, and “shut ups” become common communication methods in growing frequency, publicly played out by political leaders holding some of the highest offices in the land, our common decency has devolved to a level of gross and base behavior. This is the example we set for our young people and our children. This is what we are teaching them to do and to say. We open the door that encourages behaviors that diminish us all as human beings when we continue to exercise our own “rights and privileges” over and above the rights and freedoms of our fellow human beings. When we marginalize those that are less powerful, less wealthy, less educated, less able to speak up for themselves, we become less benevolent, less caring, less kind and our own humanity must be called into question.
We are living in very uncertain times in America where many people feel threatened and insecure in their value as citizens whether they are legal citizens of the United States of America or Global citizens. People who have struggled to gain certain freedoms and liberties that should be rights for ALL Americans are once again constrained to assert their right to be fully recognized as people who are a part of the American Dream and the greatness that America aspires to achieve. We as a culture, to our own embarrassment, have allowed ourselves to entertain falsehood as truth and absolute indecency and crudeness as normal and acceptable behavior, even from those who used to be held to the highest standards of morality, decorum and integrity.
If we are not willing to call out lies, bigotry, misogyny and indecent proposals as what they are, then we are cowards and we deserve what we get. Shame on us! “Have we no human decency?” In a time not long from now, we will be ashamed for selling our birthright for “change”, and selling out our friends and neighbors as our children were watching!