October 29, 2010

Is civility dead? Or more alive than ever?

MSNBC-Today asks the question: Is civility dead or more alive than ever?

Some years ago I could have answered that without thinking. Of course civility was dead, that didn't take a genius or a lot of thought to come up with that answer.

Regular manners dropped away and everyone could see that. Holding a door for a person, deferring to a woman entering a premises. It took a little longer for it to turn generational. Young people dropped any pretense of courtesy to anyone but their own generation, and even then it would be hard to recognize it if they showed any. Clerks in stores were rude and sullen to customers. Most people returned the rudeness so transactions were completed silently and without comments.

But I am so very glad to tell you that something has happened, things have changed. What is it you say that could cause a seismic change, and yes that is what it is. What has changed is I have gotten old and for some reason peoples attitudes have changed.

Were we living in this country fifty years or more ago it would be a given certain manners would be observed. Why did we stop observing those good manners? They were rules that made us all a little more civilized.

But things have changed, maybe because I'm older, I hope not exclusively because of that, but whatever. People hold doors for me; today as I was pumping gas the man at the next pump started up a conversation with me. Not a big deal? It is. People don't do that anymore. People have become more insular, chit chat is not something we do anymore. Privacy is big. People talk into cell phones all the time. The purpose I think some times it's because they don't want to have any social contact with a stranger. Maybe. I don't know but I want to believe that it is getting a little better a little more civilized.

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