Crotchety Post: Courtesy extinction costs us our humanity

Ok, Ok, I’ll admit it. Young people… whoever they may be… no longer consider me one of their own. In fact, ask a twenty-something to describe me they’d likely not get very far before flippantly kicking out the adjective “old,” and in so doing, crushing my heart into barkdust.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in the recent past I passed out of any pretense of youth. I reluctantly can accept that I’m no longer young, but I refuse to trade it in on the “old” label. Which leaves me what? Middle Aged? Ugh. I think its more like age purgatory. I’m nowhere. I’m not young, not old, just… here.

But… BUT… since so many young folks likely view me as an old guy, I insist on taking an additional label that can only be applied to an old guy: crotchety. If I can’t be young, I’m going to be devoutly crotchety.

And since I’ve been in a bit of spiritual slump lately with its symptomatic irritability that creeps in when my life is out of balance and my internal frustration is high, I figured now is a good time to unviel my new crotchety blog posts!

crotchety blog post number 1: Young people are rude. They are mannerless ingrates who are so damn busy tending to their narcissism and their cell phones they don’t have time for manners, kindness, patience or general consideration for others.

How’s that for old and crotchety?!

But here’s the bummer: Young people may be rude, but as I look around I notice that they are not alone. Other pergutory-ites like me are rude. You know what else, old people are pretty damn rude too.

courtesy1

What stuns me the most is how a general lack of civility and priority towards others cuts across the board, irrespective of age, status, race or creed. I think one of the most glaring indictments on people of faith is how little difference in their general regard for others and willingness to give of themselves can be found as compared to people without faith.

Civility is missing in so many areas it is nearly extinct.

Like:

  • Why doesn’t anybody send thank-you notes anymore?
  • Why is Facebook stalking more important than small talk, or how you treat Facebook friends more important that how you treat real friends?
  • When did it become unfashionable to say “excuse me,” or worse, to ignore it when someone says it to you? Having earbuds blasting is no excuse for being in a pain the ass to everyone around you.
  • Why is listening so difficult? And by the way, if you say you are listening while you are texting, you are not listening.
  • Since when did doing someone a favor become such a difficult demand on “my time,” the most precious of all things in this egoistic world we call home?
  • When did “it’s out of my way,” become a reasonable excuse for blowing off a friend or family member?
  • When did it become reasonable for grandparents to hold grudges against busy grandchildren? Whatever happened to grandparents who simply revelled in treating their grandkids like they hung the moon? In a world filled with judgement is it so bad to know you have a couple of old-timers in your corner?
  • When did texting become the prefered means of communicating when the conversation may be difficult?
  • When did it become common place for drivers to view a blinker as a signal to speed up and cut the person off? Or to simply ignore vulnerable bikers and veer into their lanes despite the fact that doing so could cost them their lives? Is your hurry worth that?
  • When did ignoring an email become an acceptable way to say no? Whatever happened to the “courtesy of a reply?”
  • Whatever happened to “spending time” together, without a deadline or an agenda or a hint of obligation?

I could go on and on. What’s sad is you could too if you thought about it. I’ve asked people about this lately, and nobody really disputes the point. Nobody really thinks I’m wrong, just that I’m hopelessly out of touch for caring about it, which quite frankly is the saddest point of all.

Consider one small counter argument. Researchers have proven that a “half-smile” — a conscious effort to curve your lips ever so slightly upward — has a dramatic impact on our general mood. They postulate that the act of smiling not only makes us feel better, but generates more positive response from others.

Courtesy makes our lives better. Consideration is contagious. Kindness boosts kindness and improves our lives collectively. You can’t get that from a cell phone.

Why do I think we need to rediscover courtesy? Because it makes us better people. But in the bigger picture, I think this lack of courtesy dehumanizes us, which historically has led to the worst of atrocities. I think it’s that big a deal. I fear we’ve collectively dumbed down the basic courtesies that help people value other people to such an extent that core principles of humanism are rendered nearly as extinct as my lost youth. The loss of my youth doesn’t matter much in the great scheme of things, but the loss of courtesy couldn’t matter more.

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