Let’s talk about your behavior

Bob McKee

A lot has been written in recent years about the erosion of civility in today’s society. At times it appears this erosion has completed its job, making rudeness and inconsideration along with a lack of respect and total absence of common courtesy the norm in current behavior patterns for social intercourse.

Civility is defined in most dictionaries as courteousness, politeness and graciousness while displaying good manners, consideration and respect. Doesn’t seem too much to ask but today apparently it is for a lot of people. You may have encountered some of those people while shopping, driving, trying to enjoy a movie or theater performance, dining out, attending church, a funeral, a wedding, or other formal ceremony.

Perhaps, heaven forbid, you are one of those people. If so, you might want to consider making some changes in your behavior.

I will show you how it’s done: Please, continue reading at your leisure.

See? Wasn’t that easy?

Being rude is not the sole province of the young although it appears that way at times. Some senior citizens obviously believe that when you reach a certain age in your dotage you automatically are issued a Senior Citizen Rude License. This allows senior citizens bearing the license to be extremely rude by loudly making disparaging remarks about someone, effective they believe only if the person the remark or comment is about is within hearing. 

A secondary benefit of the Senior Rude License is unhampered leeway to be inconsiderate of everyone but yourself. That inconsiderate provision far too often also extends to family members. A lot of seniors justify possession of a Senior Rude Licenses by pointing out that they are old and have paid their dues and if people don’t like their behavior they can kiss their Depends-covered rear.

But I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not pointing a finger at anyone or any age group in particular. And before you start pointing a finger at me, let me acknowledge that over my lifetime I have been rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful, once or twice. Part of the problem is that rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful behavior usually spawns more of the same.

I truly appreciate the fact that you are taking time out of your busy schedule to read this column.

Disrespect can take many forms, not least among them being inappropriately dressed for certain occasions. A friend told about attending the funeral of an acquaintance who left behind a 20-something son. Several of the son’s friends attended the service dressed in Tee- shirts and ragged jeans. Two left their baseball caps on even after the service began, until the funeral director quietly asked them to remove their caps.

We have all witnessed similar incidents at church, weddings and maybe at other formal, semiformal events or ceremonies that good common sense would seem to dictate more appropriate attire, not necessarily a suit and tie, but something slightly dressier than a Tee-shirt bought at a rap concert. 

I am as fond of today’s more or less relaxed dress codes as anyone and have no desire to return to the “good old days” when guys had to wear a suit and tie for something as simple as a movie date, at least for the first date anyway. And any attempt to attend Sunday School and church, a wedding or a funeral, dressed in anything less than a suit and tie stirred the wrath of mothers everywhere. In our case at least, our mother would have preferred that we wore a jacket and tie to school everyday as if we were attending some high-toned and ridiculously expensive private school instead of the working class neighborhood public schools that did accept us as students. Even at that, there was a school dress code that did not include jeans and Tee-shirts.

For the most part, our parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and almost everyone else we came into contact with set good examples in being polite, courteous and considerate. Not so much so today, unfortunately. Our leaders mostly fail to set good examples anymore, as evident in the once hallowed halls of Congress. Movie stars and other public figures we once admired and wanted to emulate rarely generate those same feelings today except among some budding sociopaths.

It is surprising what simply saying please, thank you, excuse me or may I can still accomplish. Not always, of course, and sometimes being polite and courteous will only get you another heaping of rudeness and even disdain from some people. But it will make you feel better about yourself in the long run. Especially if you back over them in the parking lot.

Oh, by the way thank you again for reading this column.