To state the obvious, civility in the nation is rapidly evaporating in the heat of anger, misunderstanding and wrong-headed beliefs. We now have dozens of opportunities daily to teach adults as well as children that human kindness and respect are still alive in the land. But will we do it? And will anyone pay attention before it’s too late?
Are these actions polite? Only you can answer for yourself.
- Do we usually hold the door open at the post office for the person entering or exiting behind us?
- Do we allow a car to inch out of a business driveway without having to wait several minutes to merge into traffic, assuming the light is in their favor and ours? No use causing an accident.
- Do we cuss and blaspheme when the driver ahead of us is too busy contemplating their navel to notice the light has changed?
- Do we make an illegal traffic turn because we don’t want to wait for our sluggish neighborhood light to change so we can get where we’re going 60 seconds faster?
- Do we yammer on our cellphones while others around us in confined places like waiting rooms would like a little peace and quiet, please?
- Do we cringe when the nice lady ahead of us is wearing a headscarf and asserts her right to respectful service?
- Do we remember that the world hasn’t revolved around us since we were two years old?
Some adults have never been teachable but what are we teaching our children and our youth?
Mental Health Issues
The percentage of our population afflicted with mental illness seems to climb every year or at least is more noticeable. It may well top 25% by the end of 2017, if not already there. Such people, not taking appropriate medication, are unpredictable at best. At worst, they become violent and inflict terrible hurt on others. Much of the fault lies with the health industry (including Medicare and Medicaid) that does not properly care for patients who are mentally ill.
In the current political environment a person doesn’t have to be mentally ill to behave rudely or speak in ignorant or stupid terms. It is as though their social filters have been discarded or are thoroughly clogged with detritus. Obviously, untreated mental illness would make them even more erratic.
What You Learn at Home Stays with You
Handed-down views of another party’s platform are seldom accurate, imbued as they can be with long-held prejudices and reluctance to listen to opinions different from what you learned at home. Children learn social attitudes at home and around the children of parents’ friends. And then – no offense to hard-working schoolteachers – they hit the quagmire of our public school systems where they’re bombarded with inappropriate language and conduct. It can be life-saving to be able to think things through before absorbing new information.
As adults we are still known by the company we keep and the way we behave in public. If you’re not sure of someone’s true world view, reading their rants on social media can be eye-opening. You’ll likely be surprised at the range of many of them, falling somewhere between uneducated and vicious, depending perhaps on limited exposure to the world as it really is. Perhaps. Yet time spent in another country can be a real cultural shock.
Leadership Can Be Faulty
In case you haven’t figured it out, I will add that Democrats are not Communists and Republicans are not Fascists. The radical fringes of both parties do teeter on the precipice of those traps. But most people, who more or less identify with one or the other major party, are middle of the road. When we do become disgusted, we generally don’t automatically switch to the opposing party. We research someone more independent or we watch fearfully on the sidelines for a few months while the idiots who think they have all power destroy each other.
When the Damage Becomes Dangerous
When it becomes obvious these so-called leaders are also destroying our nation instead of being teachable, then the rest of us act. We don’t enact punishment by playing judge, jury and executioner but we do something positive. For example, we donate money and/or time to political causes while maintaining our support of worthwhile charities, and we sometimes sign petitions. (Just never sign them on the street. The signature gatherers are often brought in from out of state. Putting your personal information down with your signature can be the first step in identity theft.)
We can’t allow decades of hard work to protect our environment and our wildlife to be swept away by a barking nincompoop and its bootlickers. And yes, we have to make sure we can protect our nation against attack but we don’t destroy human rights in the process.
We don’t go back to the days when our elderly are so impoverished they starve to death or die by the hundreds in heatwaves. The poor, even when impoverished by their own bad decisions but usually not, are everyone’s responsibility, including the government’s! God allows these suffering people to be on earth in their sad condition to test our charity and our compassion. Sometimes we are compassionate enough to do something helpful for them until and unless it’s rejected. At other times, we’re prone to fail miserably in the charity department.
We can’t let our children think that because we have elected or appointed officials, those people can do anything they want while in office. Leaders at all levels must be held accountable to the laws of the land that the rest of us are also expected to obey. If they will not, there are civilized ways to replace them.
For better or worse, we teach by example. Our children do listen to what we say and they repeat it, often at inappropriate times and places. But they act based upon what they see us do.