Closing the Barn Door

He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn’t know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior.

Oh and you know what else he told me?…I know, I mean I thought a “gentleman” was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.
Dave Foley (Troy) speaking with Alicia Silverstone (Eve) in Blast From the Past

From a friend’s FB post:

I flew to Hawai’i this past October so I could spend 5 days with my daughter and my grandson,……….. I was immersed in the “Aloha spirit.” Someone named “Rick” explained it on Talk of the Nation this afternoon, as a tribute to Senator Inouye, who passed away yesterday, and whose last words were, “Aloha.” It has left a deep and enduring impression on me ever since.

Aloha Spirit is the pinnacle of Hawai’an culture, and is “consciously and deliberately always treating the other person with positive civil regard and making a deliberate decision to do that all the time and treating them honorably, even if they didn’t agree with your views.”

In my opinion, all this talk of gun control, locking school doors, armed guards in public buildings, even better mental health care, is closing the barn door after the horse is loose. Don’t get me wrong. I support rational gun control laws, especially those that require a background check and a waiting period. I certainly support better access to, and affordable mental health services. But I firmly believe that until we learn to act in a civil manner towards each other, until we stop the verbal (and physical) brutalizing of each other for entertainment (entertainment?) we will not get relief from these violent attacks. We are all Angry Birds with a hair trigger.

My cousin Ken and I often disagree on the radio show Stephanie Miller. He finds it funny. I find it rude. Within the serious subject of current events, the rudeness is often silly and irrelevant. I used to listen a few years ago. Every day they had to mention that Steny Hoyer was fat. Now – were Steny Hoyer’s decisions wrong because he was fat? Can fat people not be good political leaders? Are fat people stupid? The constant junior high locker room jokes mispronouncing Boehner’s name, also left me cold. How can you expect to have any credibility in the public arena like that?

Rush Limbaugh is said to be to blame – left leaning media needed someone to counter his vitriolic spin. So we ended up with almost everything spun that way. Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, Miller, Olbermann, and even John Stewart with his constant penis jokes. And what is the reason given? “this isn’t journalism -it’s entertainment”.  (That’s entertaining?)

Somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s the star character in our movies and TV became the bad boy. Maybe it was the Fonz. Though the Fonz was a rebel, he treated people courteously. Maybe it was The Simpsons, where Bart and Homer were the heroes, and Lisa and Marge were – well goody 2 shoes girls. Then of course South Park, a show with very, very adult humor that was turned over to kids  because it’s a ‘cartoon’. Adults disappeared from kids programming, or became idiots. (actually the kids on the show became absolute idiots too, who couldn’t think at all) (thinking, reasoning is soooo old fashioned) My granddaughter watches a show now, that is a little inane, one of the sidekicks is so inept you would wonder how he gets dressed in the morning). The difference in this kids’ show is that, though the adults are kooky, each in their own way, they also are intelligent and compassionate. TV today is a far cry from the shows I watched where adults and kids treated each other with respect. Kids made mistakes in judgement suitable to their age. Teens were shown taking the responsibility they were taught as youngsters. Big brothers and sisters routinely were responsible for their siblings even though they expressed their frustration with having the little kid tag along.

We were told that those shows didn’t express reality, that they made the kid who didn’t have a ‘nuclear family’ feel left out. Though both Opie and the Cartwright boys were raised by widowed fathers, and Our Miss Brooks was a professional woman. June Cleaver cleaned house in a dress. Well so did my Mom, though not in pearls and heels. June Cleaver and Laura Petri were not afraid to speak up to their husbands. From rewatching The Beaver now, I’d say Ward treated June with a great deal of respect. On the Waltons I’ve heard “Do what your mother says” as often as “Do what your father says” and they always discussed the issues. Grandma and Grampa had their respected say also, which might be a good thing today where kids are often being raised by Grandparents.

My point being that we need to learn to treat each other with respect on a day to day basis. We need to address the problems in our society. Aren’t adequate wages, affordable healthcare, and equitable housing and education really also issues of showing respect? If I don’t respect my employees enough to pay them at least a living wage, why should I expect them to respect me? If we as a society, fail to provide comparable schooling to all our children, aren’t we disrespecting some, simply because they had the misfortune to be born into lesser circumstances?

You can’t keep kicking a dog and then act surprised when he bites,

but you can gentle a brutalized dog through constant compassionate care.

And if we never brutalized each other in the first place…

May we all learn to live in the Aloha spirit, wherever in the world we reside.