Bookmark and Share

Speak properly and respect each other

Have we lost our way?

Some days I see such horrific behavior it saddens me to realize that we as a society have apparently lost our direction in regard to simple etiquette, the so-called “moral compass,” and respect for the individual.

I was stimulated to contemplate the deterioration by a recent incident at the recreation center.

This man shows up on a Saturday to use the recreation center without a membership or the intention of paying for a day use pass. The teenager employee on duty, after some pressure, said he’d be willing to allow him to use the facility if he could leave collateral to show good faith of returning at a later time with his money.

Mr. Wise Guy laughed and asked my young employee, “Do you even know what collateral means?”

Come on! Isn’t it bad enough trying to weasel your way in without putting a person down?

Bear with me as I continue to comment (and make unscientific and certainly biased observations) on individual respect, the moral compass, and simple etiquette.

Life is cheap in our country today. Two college students at the prime of their young lives were brutally murdered by a 17-year-old. Get real! A student in junior high school tells the teacher, “I will cut you up, b——.” And the teacher is dismissed for her “lack of racial sensitivity” after bringing this shocking behavior to the attention of the authorities.

Deadly and tragic school massacres are hardly front page news anymore. Life is cheap, indeed.

Blame whom? Societal tolerance? Lack of parental guidance? Ready availability of lethal weapons? You tell me — I sure don’t know.

What about our moral compass? A New York governor with the reputation for being tough on lawbreakers resigns in moral disgrace. A Senator solicits sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Bill and Monica. JFK and Marilyn. Gary Hart and … you know the stories. These are our leaders.

How about the current language “on the streets” and even in our schools? It seems that no sentence can be completed unless it is full of expletives: “f—-” and more “f—,” have become so much a part of the vernacular.

Have we become immune to profanity or have we just given up? Have you watched HBO or listened to the radio lately? Comedians of each gender and seemingly all races embrace the street language with fervor … and the audiences love it.

Rap music (and I use the term “music” guardedly) lyrics are amazingly popular. The words are often foul and gender degrading. As a society we listen, we make the rappers into demigods and tycoons, and we seem unoffended.

Movies. The last time my husband and I thought of taking his 89-year-old mother to a movie we could not come up with one that would not shock the poor lady. We ended up renting from the “old and classic” section of a video rental store.

My mother-in-law’s generation and my own upbringing — we were raised to do all the “Miss Manners” things. Ladies first, take your hat off inside, don’t chew gum when speaking, give your seat to the elderly on the bus, chew with your mouth closed, don’t say “what” or “whatever,” and so on. All of this is, by and large, seemingly gone in our society today.

Simply watching the table manners at a high school cafeteria at times makes me ponder as to what we should spend time teaching. Then there is cell-phone behavior — totally accepted by society — and the amazingly dangerous phenomenon of driving while on a cell phone. Or worse, driving while text messaging. What messages can be so very important? What message are we sending by allowing safety to erode to this level? This egregious behavior is becoming the norm.

Given that the only constant is change, we will have no excuse not to work towards a society where respect for the individual is not passé. And how about using our remaining time on this planet to teach both our children (and some adults) to speak properly and respect each other.