Friday, January 14, 2011

Let's Be Nice

After the Storm
One of my goals this New Year is to be more civil. Over the years, I have noticed an increase of bad behavior among people of every age, color and creed; and, I am no exception.   


We live in an uncivil age; and unfortunately, incivility now seems to be as American as apple pie. Polite greetings, sincere apologies, expressions of gratitude and sympathy, and just plain manners seem to be absent in our modern society. Public incivility now seems to define our national character. One need only watch "reality TV," the mudslinging among our politicians, or the venomous insults hurled by our media "stars" to see incivility at work.


Remember Congressman Joe Wilson who shouted "You Lie" at the President during a joint session of Congress, or tennis star Serena (hardly serene) Williams who shouted a barrage of vulgarities at a tennis official for calling her ball out? And what about the daily occurrences of cyber-bullying committed by our young people, or the fellow who refuses to cover his mouth while coughing or sneezing in a public area. 


There are even guidelines of professional courtesy and civility for lawyers (big surprise). What ever happened to common sense? Is it so difficult to treat people with respect and dignity? Aren't these the basic values that everyone should know?

And there is language contamination. So many people I meet think that it is appropriate to use the "f-word" as an adjectival expression for any deeply felt emotion. This word is not solely the province of sailors any longer. Middle class housewives, children, and businessmen all partake. The "f" contagion is ubiquitous. Sometimes I think that without this word, expression wouldn't be possible. In part, the use of this word reflects an impoverishment of our language skills, a desire to be like the "common man," and just laziness. 


These illustrations are merely a few ways civility is in desuetude. Clearly societies do not rise or fall on the basis of civility. But life is simply more pleasant when conversation is civil and people are courteous to one another. I want to live in a society that strives to be the best it can. And more importantly, I want to be the best person that I can be. 

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