Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where has Happened to Civility?

I have had this on my mind for awhile and today at the risk of not being politically correct I am going to exercise one of my 1st amendment rights, a little free speech. Last week-end Mr. Dude and I spent a wonderful afternoon with loving, polite, gracious people.  Today I was reminded, that isn't how it always works in today's world.

In most dictionaries  the synonyms for civility are: courtesy, politeness , consideration, good manners and respect.  Respect, such a small word that means so much. Esteem, honor, regard, admiration, reverence, just to name a few. 

When I did not move my car fast enough, after the light changed, the man in the car behind me ( who was old enough to know better) Honked his horn and gave me a salute that had nothing to do with the flag! I was suddenly reminded of the erosion of civility in America. Is rude and disrespectful  behavior to others becoming our new norm?

Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at John Hopkins University co- founded the John's Hopkins Civility project in 1997 and has written several excellent books on the subject. One which we should all read is, " The Civility Solution, What to Do when People are Rude". The instant response, for some, to rudeness is not Civility which only increases the Heat level!  The old adage of Honey instead Lemon--hmmm.

The subject has now become so involved and complex that Anger Management is prescribed routinely along with medications in the hope that these things will alter behavior. Is it so difficult to comprehend and understand that to choose civility in life as a response, means we are participating in a social network exchange that will enhance our lives and the lives of others? The response we receive from others for this simple behavior will bring peace and harmony to our lives and the lives of those around us.

I am reminded of our duty and responsibilities of parenting and how complacent some of us have become.  How many times have I heard a parent of teenagers say, ", Well things have changed since your time as a teen". Some things have changed but simple respect and good manners toward others should not be some of them. We have a new scourge of destruction in our system now, called "Bullying". This technical internet world has not made us nicer people, it seems to have given some, the license to treat each other in terrible almost socially psychotic behavior. How does this happen?

Lack of manners is not confined just to the young. In our First Amendment rights included in our US Constitution, is our right of peaceable assembly without interference and the right of free speech. The display of disruption at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, when the invited Police Commissioner of New York, Raymond Kelly was not allowed to deliver his address, was a violation of his rights. It was not a peaceable demonstration, it was disrespectful and a host of other things. It is everyone's right to disagree with laws or policies, but there is a way to address this and this was not the way. It was a sad display and not just disrespectful of Mr. Kelly, but disrespectful of an honored institution of learning. Mr.. Dude, who is a 3rd generation graduate of Brown was appalled and saddened by this behavior.

Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Kelly's policies, he has a resume that none of the students have yet to achieve and for this he deserves respect!. He is a Vietnam vet, He has spent 43 years of his life in public service, has several college degrees, including NYU, St. John's Law and Harvard, plus many honorary degrees. Say what you will, but NYC is now a safer place since his tour as commissioner.  If the protestors and bothered to listen they might have learned that after 9-11 he created the 1st counter Terrorism bureau in any municipal Police dept in the country by stationing NYPD Detectives in foreign countries. I know that the objection to the law of search in NY is supposed to be about racial profiling, strange that the statistics have shown that the very people who have been saved from the horror of shootings have been the people in the most disadvantaged communities.The parents who were proud of their adult children's behavior have forgotten the rules of civility, respect and good manners.

This incident prompted Brown University President, Christina Paxton to issue this statement" "The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront to civil democratic society and to the Universities core values of dialog and the free exchange of views"   Mr. Dude and I are grateful for this statement.

When George Washington was a school boy he wrote in a paper 111 points of Civility. # 1 was Respect!
# 111 was, " labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called, Conscience !

I am not asking you to agree with me about this issue, but please give me the respect to voice my opinion, just as I would respect your right to disagree.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you and find the world, as it is today, so disappointing and disgusting. Now back to peaceful existence on my five acres.