Monday, April 25, 2011

What Happened to Civility?

It’s usually the morning and evening rush hour traffic that reinforces just how rude, as a nation, we’ve become. This morning, it wasn’t the tailgaters and aggressive drivers (this time) that once again drove home that negative impression. It was the man – how can I delicately put this – defecating on the side of the highway.

About a quarter of a mile ahead of me, I noticed a fairly expensive silver car pulled onto the shoulder of the highway. I thought it odd that the driver’s side appeared empty, the front passenger door was open and there were no blinking hazard lights or turn signals. As I got closer, I could see shoes under the passenger door but nothing else. With all the strange stuff going on these days, my first thought was that I hoped I wasn’t looking at the boots of a murdered body behind the door.

I slowed down and glanced in my rearview mirror as I passed the car, ready to stop if someone was sick or injured. There was, indeed, a body attached to the feet I saw from some distance back. This body was facing the car door, crouched down with his pants around his feet, and his bare white derrière was actually, well, physically in the act of exuding its natural waste.

From what I observed, he was definitely not in need of assistance. In fact, he seemed to be accomplishing his task with gusto so I continued on my way.

I couldn’t quite comprehend what I’d just witnessed. The physical act, yes of course. The reasoning behind it? No. It’s a given that we all have to take care of our bodily functions. However, when our bodies are dictating that our functions must be taken care of right this minute, shouldn’t we at least head for the woods (which were about 10 feet away from the car) to do our business in private?

This was just plain, smack-you-in-the-face rude behavior, the equivalent of the slap on the bicep as the clenched fist is sharply jabbed upward. This was flaunting the middle finger at anyone who happened to be passing by at that moment – at society as a whole.

What happened to civility?

In this particular case, was this man raised with such a sense of entitlement that he feels he can do whatever he wants, whenever and where ever he wants?

Does the abominable action of this one man reflect how we, as a nation, have digressed to such a point that our citizens now believe that any behavior/action is acceptable?

If so, what brought us to this point?

Can we blame our nation’s general loss of civility on our politician’s long standing bad behaviors setting a negative example that it’s became just a way of life? Can we blame it on the advent of so-called reality TV that celebrates throwing society’s mores, values and beliefs out the proverbial window? Is it the parent’s fault? To which parental generation would you assign the blame?

“Please” and “Thank You” seem to have gone by the wayside. Terse e-mails have replaced thoughtful letters or Thank You notes. Texting has replaced phone calls. We no longer ask but demand. We only give when someone’s watching. And now, apparently, we can feel free to ‘dump our crap’ where ever we want.

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