Sunday, January 29, 2012
"I am appalled by and fed up with many of today's free-for-all standards. I am peeved when someone doesn't listen when I speak, continually interrupts our conversation by answering cell phone calls or responding to text messages, stampedes ahead of me in line, makes tasteless and tactless comments without discretion, or behaves as though he is the only guy on the planet, without any regard for others. I feel angry when a colleague rolls her eyes disparagingly at me, or cuts me off as though my opinion doesn't count.
I am incredulous that please and thank you are disappearing from our vocabulary. I am distressed when a celebrity who behaves outlandishly in public is idolized as a cultural icon. I am deeply saddened by cruel bullying or invasions of privacy, whether face-to-face or on the Internet, especially when it leaves teenagers feeling so distraught that they believe their only recourse is to take their own lives. I am disgusted by political interactions that are hostile and polarizing, fueled by fevered distortions and mean-spiritedness designed to smear the opposition. I am disturbed that our sense of caring and responsibility is impeded by our own self-absorption." ~Sara Hacala
Unfortunately, Hacala described not just a few of our daily social interactions, but more accurately, the norm. While in a restaurant, it is not unusual to see a couple sitting together, yet one furiously pecking at their text keypad. Shopping at the local Walmart is a whole new experience in patience. The pushing and shoving and me-first attitudes have made what should be a pleasurable excursion more stressful than it's worth. Being anywhere in public and being unwillingly drug into a phone conversation because one party insists on talking loudly and monopolizing the attention of the room is unwanted drama.
The business world is not immune to unacceptable behavior. The rude and demeaning manner in which most transactions are handled is frustrating. There is a game of hostage that takes place, where one party feels as if the other is second rate or somehow indebted, which leads to a poor choice in not only words but the manner in which they are spoken to. Lying, cheating, and misrepresentation have replaced truth-the new four letter word that seems to turn off corporate America.
But there is hope. Samuel Johnson once said "When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency." I would like to prove him wrong. I believe it is possible for a man to adhere to what his conscience demands, even if listening has not been a former habit. If a change is made within a person, the outer man will reflect that change. I believe, and will always maintain my faith that, man can change.
With that in mind, I am embarking on a 52 week journey to change the areas within myself that have become cold, rude, impolite, or hostile, and I am inviting you along for the ride. I will be posting quotes and excerpts from Hacala's book titled "Saving Civility" every Sunday for introspective review. Perhaps by January 2013, our world won't look so hostile and just maybe, a trip to Walmart won't provoke trepidation.