Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Lost Art Of Civility

It is way past time for us to relearn a little civility in our interactions with other people. I've always prided myself in listening to another person's point of view on any subject even if I didn't subscribe to those views. I love a lively political discussion, a healthy discourse on the ins and outs of the daily workings of the government and our elected officials. In recent days, I have gotten doubly discouraged by how badly the truth about life in the United States of America has been mangled by our newspaper reporters and pundits in mainstream media. I get really tired of hearing or reading about how exceptional we Americans are, and how destructive and uncivilized citizens of other countries are. Most of the news is presented handily wrapped in the great flag of patriotism, lest we forget how lucky we are to be Americans.
I was in a local grocery store last week, the last remaining one in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which still has the employees represented by a union contract for wage negotiations. I was by the meat display, comparing prices on chuck roasts, but I needed to get my reading glasses out to see the prices. As I did, there was a man standing very close to me and I babbled something about needing to see the prices and about how expensive meat had gotten. The man blurted out that it was because the country was now being run by Communists! I questioned, Communists? Yes, he said, Communists, that's what I call the President and his Democrats, bunch of Communist Democrats! Never being one to hide my political affiliation, I told him that I was one of those "Communist Democrats", and said I certainly hadn't come to the grocery store to be insulted. I turned and continued in my pursuit of a nice chuck roast and ignored him until he left. The more I thought about our verbal exchange, the funnier it got. I soon realized that not only had we forgotten as a society that manners and civility counted for something, but that much of this loss is caused by rampant ignorance as well. This poor man had been indoctrinated by the rantings of people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to believe that because our President is a black man, we were on the road to hell in the handbasket of a bunch of Commie Democrats. Oh my!
In the days of the cold war between the USSR and the US, it would have been called propaganda, but now that our society has been polarized into an us versus them mentality, it's called fair and balanced! Never have I seen such a pile of bull shit without a cow in sight!
Ignorance begets ignorance. I was going to write a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about the grocery store incident, but I decided not to, because I realized that the poor ignorant man was probably illiterate, how else would you explain someone not knowing the difference between a communist and a democrat? I wonder if Limbaugh and Beck know the definitions?
I know that ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but I prefer to think that an educated, polite, well-mannered and informed electorate would be beneficial to our country. Never let it be said that an old Rock Springs native can't still dream! At least give manners and civility a chance!

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