Is Civility Dead?

A few days ago I shared a post, We Are Failing As Humans, by  Hijabi Online, in which she talks about the lack of civility in our world today.  Just in the past week or so, three glaring examples of this have been in the news.

  • In Florida, a real estate remodeler named David Sanguesa went to Starbucks with a colleague, ordered their coffee, paid for it, and when it took a bit longer than he would have liked, he began ranting at the African-American woman behind the counter. Sanguesa claimed the employee was refusing to serve him because his vehicle sported a “Trump” bumper sticker, but witnesses claim he was acting irrational and, in the words of one witness, he was “being an asshole”.  He screamed at the employee, saying, “We want nothing to do with you! You’re trash. Because I voted for Trump! Trump! You lost! Now give me my money back. What is your name? I want your name. I want your card. You’re garbage. You’re complete trash.”The Washington Post, 18 November 2016
  • In a Chicago Michael’s store on the day before Thanksgiving, a customer went into a tirade against an African-American employee who had merely suggested that the customer buy a re-usable bag for $1 to hold her larger purchases. The customer’s rant, which reportedly lasted for a full 30 minutes, was caught on video   by another customer.  The rant began with “And I voted for Trump! So there! What, you want to kick me out because of that? And look who won! And look who won! And look who won!” The African-American store manager can also be heard calmly telling the woman to stop using profanity because there are children present. “This woman [the cashier] screamed at me across the [expletive deleted] store like an animal … you’re an animal … I told you as the manager to reprimand … Michael is going to hear about this first thing Friday morning,” the customer says. – The Washington Post, 29 November 2016
  • On November 22, a man on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Allentown, Pennsylvania, went on a tirade for no known reason. He stood up in the aisle and began shouting “We got some Hillary bitches on here? Come on, baby! Trump! That’s what I’m talking about. Hey, baby! Donald Trump! He’s your president, every goddamn one of [you]. If you don’t like it, too bad.” His rant, also, was captured by another customer on video .  Although the man was allowed to continue his flight, Delta later banned him from all Delta flights for the rest of his life.  – The Washington Post, 28 November 2016

These are just three examples, glaring examples, of the loss of civility in our society today.  Where does this come from?  Why now?  Has this attitude, this mentality, just been simmering below the surface in some portion of the human race, or is it newfound?  I suppose there are many ways to answer these questions, and I do not claim to have a definitive answer, for I am not an anthropologist or a psychologist, but merely an observer of human behaviour.  And what I am observing these days is not to my liking.

I believe that, after listening to the hateful speech of certain political candidates for the past year or more, speech that condemned people for their ethnicity, their religion, their clothing, the colour of their skin, and more, some portion of society now believes that it is alright for them to speak and act in the same manner.  Civility, defined as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech”, is deemed to no longer be necessary by some portion of society.  And yet, some of us, even though we have heard the same speech, the same rhetoric, are appalled by such outbursts as those above.  What, then, is the difference between “us” and “them”?

Certainly I have become impatient waiting in line, but never in a million years would I dream of screaming racial slurs at the employee who is just trying to do a job in order to earn around $8 an hour to feed her children!  Yet for some, this just seems to be a natural reaction.  I could speculate that such traits as kindness and compassion are built (or not) into our genetic makeup, but I suspect there is more than that at play here.  I could also proselytize that those of us who spend much of our time reading, studying and thinking are more likely to act in a more reasonable manner under similar circumstances.  Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above and then some.  Interestingly, I came across an article in Forbes that reports Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for Attorney General next year, and who has argued against special education rights, blames the lack of civility in schools on the inclusion of disabled children!

Whatever the cause of this recent increase in uncivility, we must find solutions.  There is likely no single solution, no panacea, but those of us who still believe in treating every person with respect, with compassion, must do our part.  I salute those customers who took out their cell phones and captured the rants and tirades of the ‘deplorables’ on video, then posted them for the world to see.  We must continue to speak out against this type of behaviour, for it is destructive to our world.  And we must continue to speak out against the leaders who seem to be saying that it is “okay” to call people names, to scream and yell at others, to be openly bigoted.  This includes, if necessary, publicly and respectfully calling out the leaders of our nation, and organizations like Breitbart and others that openly promote this type of behaviour.

I can speak only for myself, but I simply cannot live in a world where it is acceptable to openly and publicly disrespect other people.  I cannot sit idly by and watch our society spin into a vortex of hate and fear.  Nobody, including the president or any other government “official” has the right to belittle another under any circumstances.  There simply is never any reason for the arrogance with which people seem to be infused today.  Those of us who have a venue to speak out against hate speech must do so, else we are doomed to become a small minority ourselves, a tiny island lost in a sea of ugly hate.  Think about it.

12 thoughts on “Is Civility Dead?

  1. This is a trend in our country. I thought the Facebook rhetoric and hate would die down after the election, but the touchdown dance being done by many Trump supporters is disturbing. He has awakened a beast in this country and I don’t know how easily it can be put back to sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had hoped it would die, also, but looks like if anything, it has gotten worse. Perhaps this is the ‘new norm’? Sigh. I don’t know that it will ever fully go back to sleep, my friend. I sometimes wake up in the morning and feel like I have awakened in an alien world … that I no longer belong or fit. Sigh.

      Like

  2. I have to hope that despite the recent results the majority of Americans have remained the same upright, concerned, tolerant citizens they’ve always been. Those are the ones who will teach their children manners and respect cross all racial boundaries. The ones who are acting in this intolerant, racist and threatening manner are probably those who have always done so but now feel validated by their glorious leader. I do hope the police see the videos and press charges for their intimidating behaviour just to show that they are at least on the side of justice.
    Hopefully there will be some people who recognise the animals responsible and let them know their behaviour is obnoxious no matter who the President is. In four years if the term office lasts that long I think there will be a day of reckoning. Even now, I hope that the normal families who practice racial tolerance are ready to boycott the businesses of all Trump voters and of all Trump businesses too.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, David. I think you have more faith than I at this point. I hope you are right, but … it just seems that the animals are taking over and the rest sit by and let it happen. Perhaps I am becoming to jaded. I think one problem is that, as the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, and the media covers the bad, but the silent majority remain just that … silent. Sigh. But yes, I hope you are right and that those of us who do not approve of the hate speech and bigotry will stand up and hit them where it hurts … the bank account! Thanks for all your support, my friend! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, great follow-on posts. Many of the talk shows that Hugh mentions talk over each other so much, there is little listening going on. We have too many who hear or read to respond, not understand. A civil argument at the appropriate decibel level stands a better chance of being heard. The louder one yells or the more curse words or labels used, typically means the argument of the speaker is less valid.

    I sent a comment to a reporter recently complimenting him on his well researched piece about the concerns over a Trump presidency for actions to lessen the impact of climate change. He thanked me and said he received a number of vile responses from climate change deniers accusing him of being political.

    We must be civil to one another. If we cannot calm an arguer down, we should leave the argument or change the subject. Being an independent, I can assure both Republicans and Democrats that neither party has ownership of all the good answers and both parties have some ideas that need much better grounding. Yet, the keys are to listen and not be afraid of contrary opinion and push back with verified data and information.

    Well done, Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Keith! Yes, I fear we are all going deaf from so much screaming and ranting, and nobody is really listening to anybody else these days. I am truly blessed to have the readers I have, all of whom are thinkers and open to a civil exchange of ideas. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, I get frustrated when a host talks over the guest. Even on CBS Morning News with three professionals, the hosts compete for the next question, before the guest is finished answer the last one. I like watching Bill Maher, but he does this a lot and actually takes the conversation in a new direction when the speaker is making a good point. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • So do I, Keith! In fact, I got so frustrated that I actually gave away the television set I had in my bedroom, where I used to always watch CNN while doing morning grooming and cleaning bedroom. 😀

          Like

  4. I have blogged about this, as you know. I do believe the “talk shows” on television have a great deal of influence here. There’s even a show on ESPN called “Pardon the Interruption.” People have come to believe that shouting makes a point more effectively than simply stating it, and insults have always been around, but they have become more numerous and more stinging. The recent campaign assuredly escalated the problem quite a bit. But civility has been dying a slow death for some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remembered your posts as I was writing this. I think we cannot say it too many times … it just keeps on begging to be repeated! And I’m sure you are right, that civility has been dying for some time … maybe forever … but it just seems so much more pronounced these days. I think perhaps all the media coverage magnifies it, too. But, I am grateful for the media coverage, as these people need to be in the public eye, need to be shamed. But, do they have a conscience such that they are even able to feel shame? I dunno. Sigh.

      Like

      • I don’t have a problem with media coverage. I have a problem with news programs that have devolved into pure entertainment and they set the bar low — with interruptions, mindless banter, and incorrect grammar. And when they refuse to take on folks like Trump who needs to be exposed for what he is I suspect they are afraid folks will stop watching, and that seems to be the main objective: viewers.

        Liked by 1 person

I would like to hear your opinion, so please comment if you feel so inclined.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s