It seems almost every day of late, I find myself asking: Whatever happened to common courtesy? To manners and decorum? Civility, dignity, respect? To setting a good example?
Once upon a time, our society was consumed with etiquette and proper behavior, so much so that newspaper columns such as Emily Post and Miss Manners were big business. The thought of offending someone or making them uncomfortable in some way was almost unthinkable for civilized persons. Even for the average citizen, violating the constructs of acceptable public behavior was cause for major embarrassment. My, how far we’ve fallen.
It’s not just the little things that have been lost – like saying please and thank you, holding doors, saying hello when you encounter a fellow human being on the street. It’s bigger things, as well. I bet most of us could come up with a myriad of examples of behavior we’ve witnessed that would have been unthinkable just a short while ago. Not only have most people become desensitized to such behavior, some even champion it.
Consider the woman here in Northern Virginia who was photographed giving the Presidential motorcade the middle finger salute. Rather than being embarrassed for her own poor judgement, she boasted of it, and immediately became a darling of the left-wing media. She was held up as an inspirational symbol of the Resist movement, and thousands of people donated over $100k to her GoFundMe account.
And just last week, at our local Democratic Committee’s annual gala, no less than SIX elected officials, including the current Virginia Attorney General, belittled a sitting US Congresswoman by posing with her cardboard effigy which was dressed in a derogatory t-shirt. I suppose it is one thing for constituents to engage in this behavior – they’ll tell you it’s all in good fun, of course – but for those who purport to represent all of us? Not very inspiring.
I came across this recent article in the WSJ lamenting the loss of “maturity, grace, and self-discipline” among today’s adults who, according to the author, are not setting the example for the next generation. I could not agree more.
We could argue all day about the root cause of the decline in societal niceties, but I believe the reason we have lost courtesy, dignity, and respect is that we no longer value each other – or even ourselves – as we once did. Courtesy is a signal to another person that they are important, that they are significant enough to deserve your care and concern. Dignity and respect not only symbolize how you feel about others, such things indicate to the world how you feel about yourself.
So the next time you’re tempted to flip off the President or mock your colleague, just remember that it says as much about you as it does about them.