I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but I still think at is rude to be loud in public as if everyone within blocks is interested in the details of your personal life. I’m still a little surprised that a man would think I would be interested in being an unwilling party to a business transaction he is loudly discussing on his cell phone while I am trying to make sense of the paper in the coffee shop. People play music that can be heard over a three-county area without asking if I am interested.
Civility is out. People are just plain rude. What would make a man think I was interested in listening to music without even asking me? We had not exchanged a word and he got in his car in the parking lot directly beside me and popped in a CD, cranked up the volume so loud it distorted his cheap speakers and rattled his rusty fenders and set there like it was the most natural thing in the world to take everyone in the township hostage to his questionable music. It had to hurt his ears. He could see I was less than six feet away. He could see I was reading. He could see my window was down to enjoy the evening air. What makes people assume you want to listen to what they think passes for music no matter how guttural, crude, or obscene?
While I’m up here on my soapbox I might as well tell you I can’t get used to women belching in public. Who started that, anyway? Why don’t Dad’s teach their sons to take off their hat indoors, or stand when a woman approaches the table? I’m so old I still remember my Dad teaching me not to make noise at a basketball game when the opposing team is attempting a free-throw. Why don’t parents teach their children to salute the flag?
A couple other things I might as well get off my chest. Why should we have to look at people with most of their underwear on the outside of their clothes? Is not underwear by its very design supposed to be worn under your clothes? What are we coming to when little or noting is reserved for private? Why don’t girls save their lingerie for their honeymoon anymore? Have they considered that they might want to withhold a little something for the exclusive enjoyment of their husband?
What ever happened to ladies and gentlemen? Wouldn’t a young man set on being a gentleman be refreshingly unique these days? Wouldn’t a gentleman be attractive to a lady? Would not a lady seem a thing of rare and unusual value just by virtue of contrast? The barbarian hordes are inside the gates and civil civilization is in its death throes. Manners and attention to even basic etiquette, the commonest civilities have passed out of style in America.
Is there anyplace where a gentleman can still sip lemonade on the village green with a lady on his arm, under moonlight serenaded by a band skilled enough to play melodious music? Is there any little out of the way berg where virtue is still valued and courtesy is still common? Are there mothers out there who are committed to raising cultured, civil sons and daughters? Do parents value this? Do schools teach this? Do Churches foster this in any way?
When I was a boy my Dad was in Vietnam one summer and my mother did her best, as always, even though we were people of modest means, to instill in me an appreciation for culture and civility. She read to me, took me regularly to the library, repressed my urge to use crude language or behave in an ill-mannered way. She even took me to a nice outdoor symphony in Garfield Park in Grand Rapids one pretty summer night. When we went out into public it was considered an occasion and my parents insisted that we dress in neat clean clothing just out of respect for other people. My mother intuitively knew that there was within me a savage in need of reform and she set about reforming early.
I have never heard my father, grandfather or brothers make suggestive remarks about women. My Dad never used crude or profane speech. My grandfather would challenge a man who dared to do so in the presence of a lady. He taught me to carry on a polite conversation, answer the phone, shake hands, tie a tie, keep my car clean, trim my nails, shine my shoes. He coached me on how to treat a girl and had me practice on my mother and sisters. That was then, this is now. I have to wonder what it would take to restore civilization to America. Will it ever happen? Can it happen?
I am under the conviction that it will not unless America has a heart transplant. The heart of America today does not reverence God or regard others. We are a selfish people who worship things, pleasure, and ourselves. Courtesy, culture, and civility, character, manners and etiquette are rooted in regard for people and reverence for God. These are Christian virtues. They are present in cultures where Christianity thrives. Civilization is rooted in scripture, as is civil law. They depart as the influence of Christ wanes. Courtesy will not be common until Christ is King and gathers an order of noble men and ladies around him again.
Riverfront Character Inn