Today the afternoon news show on 630CHED tackled a very tough topic. The hosts, Andrew Grose and J’Lyn Nye vividly illustrated the amount of abuse people in media receive via social media posts. As the discussion continued, it expanded to include the decay of civility and decency in society as a whole.
It is the driver who speeds up to block another driver who has been patiently signaling to change lanes. It is the driver who blatantly parks in the handicapped parking zone and glares at you, daring you to say anything about it. It is the person who leaves their shopping cart in the driving lane even though the cart corral is only a few feet away. It is the student who disrespects the instructor. It is the person who brings three carry-one pieces of luggage onto an airplane and forces their will on any other passengers nearby. It is the person who opens their car door in the parking lot at McDonalds and dumps their garbage onto the pavement when the trash bin is only a few steps away. It is every person who elevates their own “rights” above the civil and respectful observance of the preference of the polite society in which they want to live.
Should we then be surprised when these people react in language that is vulgar, distasteful to the infinite degree and even oversteps the bounds of ethical and legal discourse? By many other actions, they exhibit in their life that they are the most important person they know. Nothing else matters. They think nothing of endangering, disenfranchising or denying someone else of dignity and respect.
I am not sure when we left Mayberry and landed in this harsh and brutal world. I am sure it wasn’t a sudden shift, but one that was at first supple, and then became more and more abrupt. Did it start when society started to declare itself independent of and superior to the teachings of the Good Book? That “love thy neighbour” stuff is rather important. Or was it that our smart people, the professors in our edifices of enlightened learning, taught our younger generations that “their truth” and “my truth” were not necessarily the same thing; that their “reality” was what everyone else had to cater.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is quoted as saying “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. That is why I applaud the 630CHED hosts for publicly discussing this topic. It is time that we not only clean up bullying on social media, but that we insist on the return of common civility and good manners into the public space. We must be willing to call out the abandoned shopping cart offender. We must remind the handicapped parking thief and the carry-on luggage mule that they are not entitled to impose their arrogance on the rest of us. We must be willing to counter the “individual rights above all else” philosophies presented to our students with examples of gracious living. Or maybe I should say “Grace-filled living”? And we must certainly, as a society counter and take power away from the people who are making our social media and internet such a cesspool of disgusting excrement.
Pursue what is right, good, noble, praiseworthy, uplifting, civil, neighbourly, intelligent.