Thursday, October 18, 2012

CIVILITY - HAVE WE BECOME A CRUEL COUNTRY?

Watching Katie today as I sat home feeling under the weather, I heard the theme of her show was the meanness in our culture today, the put-downs of celebrities and anyone who is in the public eye. Guests on the show included the anchor woman who responded to the hateful e-mail about her weight; Tyra Banks and Lolo Jones, who have been fair game for those who enjoy the anonymity of sitting at home behind a computer screen while they spew bad things about people they don’t even know.

The subject is actually Civility and the lack of it in the world today. Why has a generation or more come up enjoying the embarrassment or humiliation of others? Criticism is popular now. In fact everyone is a critic of some kind. I never liked movie critics and never believed them because what they liked has never been what I liked. 

Should the creation of the Reality Show bear some blame in this? “A big check connected to bad behavior” is part of the problem according to the psychiatrist, Dr. Sherry Blake. Reminds me of training a dog. The media, I believe, has trained our society to be mean instead of kind as once we were. When Housewives of Anywhere are fighting and cursing and getting high ratings on TV, that coarseness grows in our community. Katie Couric called it a “culture of cruelty.”

I have always abhorred this type of behavior, even when my own brothers played pranks on their peers, on their girlfriends, and even their own brothers. The jokes were cruel and mean spirited, not funny as the jokesters believed. 

Mean behavior brings success in our society today, especially when it comes to competition. Lolo Jones, Olympic athlete, says she  concentrates on the good things people say, those who support her, and ignores the others. Competitors in politics pay millions for mean spirited ads portraying each other as buffoons or liars.

I find so many good people in my life, and in my circle of friends, that I can’t imagine the pain of having others attack me verbally and publically.

Today as I pampered myself, I called a neighbor who sells eggs from her own chickens. I’d never met this woman, but I ordered a dozen eggs and told her I was not feeling like driving today, but was going to call a young man who sometimes ran errands for me, and I would get him to pick up the eggs.

Elizabeth insisted I not call anyone. She said, “I’ll be over in a little while to bring your eggs.” 

When she arrived I offered to pay her extra for delivery. She would not accept it. “I’m glad to bring these to you,” she said, “and if you need me to go pick up a prescription for you or anything you don’t feel like getting out for, I’ll be glad to do it.”

Elizabeth is living with her father and caring for him because he is not well. She is already a caregiver, but is willing to take time to do for me, a perfect stranger. Those are the people we need to hear about. The Elizabeths of this world need a format for their voices, but they are usually too busy caring for others to send out Tweets or post on Facebook. 

Let’s use media, the Internet, to tell the good things that take place every day by good people. Find ways to show kindness because everyone out there in the world has insecurities, self-esteem that could use a boost, and even if we only give a smile we can brighten the life of a stranger. 

Do you have any good news about kindness? Please share it with all of us.

7 comments:

DJan said...

A very good thought! I'll concentrate on random acts of kindness today with this in mind. And I NEVER watch reality shows, for much of this reason: they are filled with awfulness. Let's be a kind country, one person at a time. :-)

Robert S. King said...

Interesting article, Glenda. My own cynical take is that cruelty, incivility, and looking out for number one are all symptomatic of a empire in decline. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't believe this society any longer values fairness and honesty. Instead our worth is judged by how much money we've made and how many other people we control.

Joan L. Cannon said...

The older I get, the more difficult it seems to decide whether there's any use in trying to make changes by negative emphasis. Just look at the campaigns. I actually got a large full color card today urging me to vote against a candidate. Yet, with everybody on both sides so busy bending or ignoring the truth, it makes things so difficult to evaluate!

Glenda C. Beall said...

Thank you, DJan, for your nice comment. If any one of us is inspired to be kinder, we have made progress. But I know you are always kind and the kind of person I wish filled our country from border to border.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Robert, I hope you are wrong about the future of our society. I think of my great nephews and nieces who have been brought up with good values and who seem to me to be fine young people - in spite of some of the tribulations of their own childhoods. I hope the greed of the past will change in future generations.

One of the reasons I am so happy where I live is that I don't know or socialize with people who seem to care about financial worth. Perhaps it is also age that has made my situation different. As we age, lose our loved ones, our health, we find out that all the money in the world can't replace love and caring of family and friends.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped being concerned about the judgement of others - whether it be my possessions or my social circle - I know who I am now and what my worth is in this world. But it took lots of living and experience to come to that place.
I only wish I could pass on what I have learned to young people who are still concerned about how they appear to others. But each must learn at his own pace on life's journey.
Thank you for reading and leaving a comment, Robert.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Joan, I agree with you. Words taken out of context can be spun either way so I don't believe any of it or believe anything I hear on TV or on the Internet.

I participated in a survey about my thoughts and feelings on this election. One question was, which one do you think will raise taxes? My answer was: Both of them would have to raise taxes to pay off the terrible debt from these endless wars.
Ted Turner said tonight that all the wars we have been in since Viet Nam have drained our country. He said we haven't had a surrender since the Japanese surrendered in 1945. So what have these wars accomplished?

Perhaps Robert is right about the decline of the U.S. but I continue to be positive about our citizens and think that the more we have media talking about our values and how we have changed, the better the chance of making those changes.

Glenda C. Beall said...

What I mean is the more chance of making changes to the cruel and cynical culture we have now.