The Death of Common Courtesy

9:08 AMHeather

I rarely watch the news anymore.  I've adopted a "bury my head in the sand" approach as of late.  Sorta like my fingers are in my ears and I'm saying, "la-la-la, I'm not listening."  Just don't want to be brought down and caused to worry by it all.  But, I did happen to catch the World News with Diane Sawyer the other day.  And saw a story about bullying.

Not bullying at school.

Not bullying on social media.

Not bullying among teens.

Nope.  Bullying in the office.  In the work environment.

Say what?  Yes, apparently, this is a thing.  And a growing trend, to boot.  Or at least, some researcher somewhere says it's on the rise.  It's becoming common place.  Insert testimonials from those who have endured it and lived to tell the tale.  Insert an expert with an explanation.

Which was that in this economy, people are worried about job security and the competition is increasing in the work place.  The stress of it all leads to bullying.

Hogwash.  Let's just rationalize it, folks.  Let's come up with some reasonable explanation and explain it away.  Yes.  I rolled my eyes there.  

And as much as I loathed this sorry excuse for inexcusable behavior, I had to laugh at another expert's advice for all.  Get ready for it.  Brace yourself.

Drum roll, please...

...Be nice.  

"Oh, be nice!  Good advice we can all follow," says George Stephanopoulos as a wrap up to this story package.  

Huh?  Really, America?  Has it come to that?  It's breaking news that we should all be nice to each other?  Have we all come to such infantile selfishness that it's really newsworthy to advise us to all be nice?  What are we--kindergarteners?  

Yi, yi, yi.  The dumbing down of America never felt more real to me than at that moment.  

That and my growing disdain for ALL the politicians in D.C. who I want to tell to put their big kid pants on and do their jobs and figure it out.

Or, hey--take George's advice.  BE NICE!

Yes, folks.  I'm sorry to say that I believe we are seeing the death of common courtesy in our culture.  Along with common sense and the celebration of character over achievement.  It's evident everywhere you go.  This morning on Facebook, a friend from high school lamented about the ridiculous behavior and poor sportsmanship and foul language tossed at her son's 7th grade football team last night from their opponents.  

Yes.  The kids AND the parents.

People.  Get a grip!  I believe the cause of death for common courtesy is easy to identify.  It's being choked out by entitlement.  People don't step aside to offer someone else to go ahead of them because it's THEIR turn.  Adults and kids alike push and shove in a crowd, acting like spoiled brats.  We now have to post signs about proper behavior at LITTLE LEAGUE FIELDS.  For the parents, nonetheless.  For the love of decency.  It's ridiculous.

Are we all so busy and rushed and out for ourselves that we no longer have time to see the people who are passing through our paths every day?  Go, go, go.  No time to say hello or offer a good morning.  Rush, rush, rush.  Can't be nice.  Gotta shove ahead of you.  Honk, honk, honk.  The light turned green like 2 seconds ago.  Why aren't you moving?!  

It makes me crazy.  How is it that just one or two generations ago, manners were important.  You greeted people and look them in the eye.  Shake hands.  Say please and thank you.  And if you live in the South, you say no m'am and yes sir.  No first names for adults if you're a kid.  Unless you have "Ms." or "Mr." in front of them.  I believe I truly may have been born in the wrong era.  Because I long for the good ole days of manners and niceties and common courtesy.  

I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. Along with saying good-night to John Boy, the characters on the shows were polite and kind and helpful and courteous.  If not, Pa would have their hide.  Nowadays, you have shows with words like liars and mistresses in the title.  (No offense to any fans).  Dog eat dog.  No moral object lesson offered by Grandpa that led to a happy ending for all. 

As much as I long for a more civil society, the truth of it is, I think we are all actually hungry for it as a nation.  I think we are quite conflicted.  Perhaps we are beginning to see ourselves in the mirror and we don't like what we see.  Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to tire of the effects of our entitlement.  Think of the incredible popularity of Duck Dynasty.  A family friendly show about a family who prays and works together and stays together, albeit with some good natured sarcasm.  Think of how human interest stories of someone who is kind or brave or selfless gains huge popularity.  Like the viral You Tube videos of the basketball player who throws the ball to the special needs kid on the other team so he can shoot a basket.  We cheer and applaud and our hearts are warmed.  

Because I think we are all really hungry for it.  I think we are all feeling the effects of our dying common courtesy and it's not good.  We want a hero.  Not one in spandex necessarily.  But someone whose character challenges us and encourages us.  

Someone like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Because she endured the opposition for girls being educated to the point of taking a bullet in the head for it.  And she continues to champion the cause.  To help others.  Not just for her own selfish desire to be educated.  But to change her culture so that all girls can be educated.  That's a courtesy extended to her nation that is quite uncommon.  We rally behind such public figures and we are inspired.

And we forget that we ourselves have the ability to be the hero.  We ourselves can let the mother with the screaming toddler go ahead of us in line.  And offer her a kind word and a smile.  Instead of feeling so angry that she interrupted my quiet wait in line.  We ourselves can let the other car go ahead.  Even if they plan to anyway.  Just surrender to them and let them go.  We ourselves can be part of growing movements like paying for the car behind us at Starbucks.  Or being patient with a tired cashier who is not quick and seems worn out.  

We can be the hero, indeed.  A million times a day.  By taking up the cause of reviving common courtesy.  No matter how others behave.  We can choose to inspire by our actions and words, whether or not it's received or reciprocated.  

We can BE NICE!  Really, we can.  Please?  Will you give it a try?  Be a trendsetter.  And thank you very much for playing nicely with others.

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