We live in a less civilized world these days.
Watch about 30 seconds of an afternoon talk show or evening cable news interview and you’ll get the point. People don’t talk, they shout. They don’t listen, they interrupt. Their language is abusive, derogatory and often profane.
But I’ve always thought that small town America was the surviving bastion of a more polite time. After all, one can’t go around indiscriminately flipping off other drivers along Eby Creek Road or behaving rudely to the wait staff at a local restaurant because chances are you will run into the person on the receiving end of your bad behavior. Nothing kicks off a parent/teacher conference like a flashback to a less-than-civil encounter. How about that moment of recognition/revulsion while shaking someone’s hand for the first time?
When you live in a small town, it behooves you to act nice because you never know who is watching and you never know when you will run into that witness. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way, and a goal that greets me anew every day. I have never had an occasion to regret a time when I was polite, but I have plenty of regrets centered around times when I was rude.
Maybe its because I am turning 52 next week and thus jumping into the realm of geezer-dom, but I am seeing a marked manners meltdown around town. A couple of examples from last week were particularly grating.
The first happened during last week’s Eagle Town Board meeting. I understand that people are passionate about the retail marijuana issue and I understand they are frustrated about another vote planned this November. But by cat-calling members of the board while they were speaking, sound arguments regarding the issue got lost in a sea of bad behavior. Ultimately it took an admonishment from Mayor Yuri Kostick, reminding the crowd that the board members didn’t interrupt or argue with residents during their time at the microphone, to restore some order.
Here’s some political advice — when you act rudely at a town board meeting, it is easier for the people at the head table to dismiss you. That may not be fair, but it’s a fact. Delivering an impassioned speech is one thing. Interrupting someone else’s speech is another.
The second happened when my husband and I attended a Second Saturday Social event hosted by the Eagle Ranch Homeowners Association. The golf course staff graciously hosted the event and there was a lovely array of free food and drink offered to attendees. However, it would have been nice if some of my neighbors would have had the good manners to clear their paper plates with half eaten food and half consumed beverages from the various tables, ottomans and chairs set up for the event. There was trash everywhere and I was astounded that people didn’t have the basic manners to pick up after themselves. The offenders must have full time help at home or they live in proverbial pig pens. I guess they believe it isn’t littering if they are at a party. If that’s the case, I doubt if they get invited to many.
In this less-civil world we live in, I truly believe we can be better than the norm. It doesn’t take that much effort. Just treat people they way you want to be treated and remember lessons you learned in kindergarten.
And always mind your manners.