The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Stuff That Churns One's Innards....


I suppose my age is showing when I talk about little niceties people used to show one another - those little respectful thing like calling a person by his/her name (and grown-ups were always Mr. This, or Mrs. or Miss or even Ms. That!)

I remember when men wore hats (not baseball caps) and all boys were taught that hats (or even baseball caps) were removed inside a house or school or other structure out of respect. Hats were also "tipped" as one appoached or greeted a lady. 'Lady' denoted a certain civility about a female, whereas 'woman' (as in, "She is THAT kind of woman!" ) referred to a less refined, more 'common' female. 'Common' meant something approaching 'sleazy' - because it hadn't the 'class' or 'breeding.'

I really am getting old, now that I think about it. The only place nowadays that one can see this sort of respect shown on a regular, habitual basis is in the Armed Forces. I don't know as that it is a part of basic training, but it seems to me the uniformed people I've met of late have had a refresher course in manners from somewhere.

I imagine a young person who behaved as they were taught in my day would be out-of-place, ridiculed, today. What a shame. It was the little niceties such as these that kept the fact that we are all people on this planet right out there in the open, reminded us that we are all worthy of respect just by being alive. It softened the harshness of such things as wars, the Great Depression, the Industrial Revolution.

I guess what started me off on this tangent is the idea of people treating one another as less than human. If a person is no more to you than another object in your house, you don't feel any obligation to treat it any better than you would treat the floor you walk on. Think about this: the floor has no feelings, so you can stamp all over it if you want to. You can drag furniture across it if you like, because it is just a floor. You can clean it with whatever is handy, trying to make it look new again because if it becomes scarred or ruined, well -- there is always the option of wall to wall carpeting. It's only a floor. Or a parent or a sibling or a child, a spouse, a partner, a grandparent.

If we were to teach simple ways to express respect to others around us, perhaps we would be seen as human, as beings who share the planet with those around us. As it is, the disregarding of other persons is widespread, and I can only think it is because we are so spread out. In small towns of yore, our parents knew our friends' parents, our grandparents went to the same luncheons, shopped the same stores, lived down the block from one another. We were always being watched by those who could "tell" on us - but I think there was more to it than that. We had something to look forward to. Growing up meant more than reaching a drinking or driving or voting age; it meant reaching an age where one could earn and receive the respect of those who come after us. To keep that respect, we all minded our own manners and presentation in public and in private.

Now we have sports figures joining in with melees begun by rudeness, by spectators showing their disdain by demeaning other beings. We have renegade spectators who should be banned from the game venues.

Of course, back in the pre-TV days of my parents, boxing was an entertainment quite ppopular with the masses. Back then of course, participants were accorded respect as was the sport itself, with rules and penalties for breaking those rules. I used to wonder about that, watching men hit eachother for entertainment. But I understand the rules were the rules and the referee was respected and obeyed as a matter of course.

I think what I am missing, as I write this on a sunny Florida afternoon, is the civility of people, the treating of one another as though we are all related (if you go back far enough, we probably are) and according to one another that sort of respect.

I shall now yield my soapbox.



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