Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Putting the 'civil' back into civilization

My God, but we're an angry, vulgar and ultimately hateful species. Some days I'm almost embarrassed to be a human.

I'm not really referring to the senseless wars in the name of superstitious ideologies that always seem to be going on. It's the personal version of "man's inhumanity to man" that's on my mind.

I can't read an online news story about the political races without coming across in a news organization's comments section petty name-calling between Republicans and Democrats, or even between fans of the same party, voicing their hostility in cold, cruel words for an opposing candidate. Ron Paul's supporters have shown particular talent for this, judging by their scathing attacks on other candidates on the site The Daily Paul. Obama demonizes Hillary and vice versa ad nauseum, as did McCain and Romney when the latter was still running. And their minions all hate each other, and are only too proud to post their feelings on blogs and news sites.

Things aren't much better on Masonic forums and blogs, with "brothers" trashing each other's opinions and affiliations regularly, and often not very politely.

It's not just online we see this sinking to the lowest common denominator. Every day the news tells us of murders, rapes, and crimes too horrible to contemplate. Recently, a father forced his child to watch him murder her mother, and then made her help dispose of her body after he cut off the mother's hands, feet and head. In January, 24-year old Meredith Emerson was brutally murdered — beaten to death, then decapitated — quite near me in a north Georgia state park.

And then there's road rage, where you get to hate a new random group of people every day. How often do you see someone flipping the finger at another driver, or mouthing curse words as if the other driver can hear him? Or how often do you do it yourself?

Our "entertainment" not only no longer teaches values, it actively encourages the lack of values. I mean, have you seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Described by one writer as "Seinfeld on crack," it's an endless parade of how to be selfish and cruel.

In the "good ol' days," our sports heroes were actually heroes. Never mind they had their vices, like Babe Ruth's famous alcoholism. At least they weren't shooting each other and running dog-fighting operations.

Fast food clerks, bored and most likely raised by wolves, regularly make the news by getting caught spitting into food. College kids blow away their classmates just for kicks.

Last Friday evening in England a group of women dining at Joe Delucci's Italian restaurant in Lichfield, Staffordshire were presented with their bill after receiving and then complaining about particularly bad service. Atop the bill was typed in, as if it were an ordered item, the words "SUCK MY D*** F*** FACE." The owner, a Mr. Langsdon, said the message had been meant to be seen only by kitchen staff and he did not know how it ended up as an item on the receipt.

He told a reporter, "That shouldn't come out on the bill, so we've got to find out what's gone wrong there."

I'm not arguing for a crusade to "put God back in the schools," or for any sort of moral crusade. I'm not saying we should "go along to get along." I'm not saying there aren't things worth fighting for.

I'd just like us to put the "human" and the "humane" back into humanity.

Image: Check, please! A bill from Joe Delucci's restaurant in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England

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  1. There have been several threads on various Masonic fora over the internet that deal with the lack of training in critical thinking today. People believe that a valid argument is to attack a person (ad hominem argument) rather than to discuss the issues being raised. I saw an article in the Washington Post that claimed that in the 1950s and 60s, the average "sound bite" from a candidate was 43 seconds. Today it is 6.5 seconds. In this short time, there is no ability to develop a cogent argument.

    Additionally, people don't read. Reading promotes rational thinking and behavior, it provides an oportunity to review arguments and check sources; video and audio news promote reaction without critical thought.

    With this sort of training, how can civility be developed or expected?

  2. The real problem is touched on in the article; popular entertainment. Arguing can be, unquestionably, entertaining. It's a discourse of ideas stepped up to a WWF level. Many great philosophers engaged in impolite discourse; although the change in culture has set the bar fairly high for impoliteness. People are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. Since society accepts quite a bit, it becomes more difficult for people to be heard without shouting. It's the never-ending search to be an individual. The irony is that being an individual is inescapable. I'm reading the Utopian novel 'Herland' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman right now. It speaks a lot to our strife as an animal lifeform. Without the struggle to survive, we come up with new struggles. It's getting back to our natures.

  3. holiness is in right actions and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves
    and goodness is what God desires in the head and heart- man makes decisions to be good or bad.

    and when you stand before God, you cannot say,"But I was told by another to do thus, or that Virtue was not convenient at the time"
    This, will not suffice....................

  4. So, let's make it a point to spread civility on Masonic blogs. It's only one place--but it is a place to start.

  5. Im sorry brother but like many who have made this mistake before the one problem with your article is this...there was no good ol days. Those days were filled with hate crimes, sexism, and religious intolerance. If you remember those days, its the innocense of your childhood that filters out the bad. If you are only reading about them, then the book is sensoring the truth.

    The question isn't why is it getting worse, because its not. The question is, why is it still bad and what can we do that we haven't tried in the past?

    Just my humble opinion.

  6. Last Friday evening in England a group of women dining at Joe Delucci's Italian restaurant in Lichfield, Staffordshire were presented with their bill after receiving and then complaining about particularly bad service. Atop the bill was typed in, as if it were an ordered item, the words "SUCK MY D*** F*** FACE."

    At least it was served at no charge! :-)

  7. ben r
    WTF is your problem?
    If your mother was dining with her friends, and recieved a note asking her to suck her servers d%$*, would you still be so chevalier about it?

    If that happened to my wife, sister mother or daughter, I would be at that shop, physically making that individual understand he Fu*&ed with the wrong woman on the wrong day.

    Someone want to Fu%# with your wife fine, mine, NO. And I would make sure that the human who did it, would really think twice about doing it again!

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  9. "would you still be so chevalier about it?"

    Chevalier is French for a knight (as in a knight in shining armor). I think you meant to say cavalier, which would be more fitting.

    Might as well mean what you say if you are to attempt to rip on somebody for their comments.

  10. wow 2 Bowl Cain,
    you are so bad ass, you must have earned the street respect of everyone. You are Mr. Cool, the definition of Masonry and Manhood. The only law is that of nature!

    PS...what a joke.


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