Friday, September 18, 2009

What Happened To Civility?

Recent happenings have brought the lack of civility in our society to the attention of many via newspaper and television coverage.The good thing is we get to see the nitty gritty of this decadent behavior. The bad thing is we get to see the nitty gritty of this decadent behavior. Unfortunately, it wasn't a big shock to me because I've been watching it seep into our culture for far too long.

History tends to repeat itself. Some wise person once said that if we don't pay attention to the past (history) we will be doomed to repeat it. Not his or her actual words but the thought was there. Look back to some early civilizations -- the Romans or Greeks for instance. These cultures were exceptional for their times, filled with family values, education, government, art, music and the good things of life. There was an abundance of whatever they needed. And then, isn't there always an 'and then', they became overwhelmed with their self-importance, their successes, their power and their culture began to turn and failure followed.

When did our power and successes begin to eat away at our family values? When did we look the other way when rudeness seeped into our culture? After World War II we recovered with an unprecedented rush of success. Businesses boomed, education blossomed and while, at first, we relished these things, the need for more and more of everything slowly took over. Now kids aren't at the dinner table with Mom and Dad much anymore. Family conversations often become battles for power and sink to levels unimaginable. Everyone is too busy. Too busy to maintain family traditions and values? The gifts at Christmas and on other occasions are a competition to outdo the last gifts. Movies get louder and louder, more violent and the language is abhorrent. Popular music isn't words set to music that you can hum along to but shouted obscenities and information on how to kill a cop or some such other terrible base.

I'm not even going to mention the questionable dress codes most young people allow 'society' to induce them to follow. But, when did rudeness become the norm in family discussions, in our schools and even between youngsters? Listen to conversations at the mall and think, would you have said that to your siblings, your parents or even your friends? Words I think unprintable and certainly not for any type of conversation have crept into our movies, television, books and conversations. Where is this going? Schools have had their hands tied in most instances when occasions of misbehavior or disruption occurs in the classrooms.

Recently on two occasions I heard unheard of remarks being made by people who should have known better. Why did they use them? Because it's not frowned upon anymore. We have become accustomed to turning our heads and ignoring these things because to stand up for something is tantamount to welcoming censure yourself.

Young athletes are encouraged to be so tough that even their language should follow suit. A congressman felt no remorse in shouting out "You lie" to the President of the United States of America during one of his speeches to a joint session of congress. Why? Because there is no retribution of any kind. Oh, a fine to someone who makes millions is nothing. A reprimand is over and done with and life goes on. There are so many good examples of civil, honest examples of how to have a good life without lowering moral standards. I know you can make your own list.

I fear for the lack of civility in each and every walk of life, in families, businesses, government, sports and schools it is an unrecognized trait of deterioration of our civilization. And, who is going to do something about this? I think the basics of life lead back to the family and their responsibility of creating an atmosphere where future generations will know when they can't cross that line before even getting to it.

Civility? The very word is part of civilization. We should all be very careful and very watchful.