Monday, September 14, 2009

My Mama Taught Me Better

What's going on in society these days? I mean really. Look at Kanye West and Joe Wilson (two names that have probably never been uttered in the same sentence before!).

When did rudeness become acceptable? Defensible? The status quo?

When did apologizing become a sign of weakness or backing down?

My mother taught me to be kind. Be responsible. And yes, to stand up for what I believe in but in a civilized manner. She taught me that the world doesn't revolve around me. I passed those lessons on to my sons. I said I was sorry . . . and I MEANT it when I said it . . . when I'd been unfair to them. Or even just short-tempered. I believe that being willing to apologize shows strength and compassion.

Rudeness is never acceptable. Even when I've been treated poorly, it's not okay. I don't want to stoop to the lowest common denominator. I want to rise above it.

Breaking rules is not okay. I learned this one many times, but the best reminder came when I was 16 and had gotten caught going off campus for lunch (something only seniors could do and I was a junior). Since I was the driver, I got three days detention. Since I wouldn't rat on who else was in the car with me they tacked on another two days (I felt sort of noble about that!). When I tried to defend myself to my mom (who wasn't buying any of my teenaged outrage, by the way) by exclaiming, loudly, that it was a stupid rule, she calmly replied that it might well be but I had two choices: obey it or work to change it. Breaking it was not okay. In honesty, I'd like to say I worked to change it, but no. I did get better at not getting caught (it was all in which parking lot I parked in, I discovered).

But, I digress.

Joe Wilson was out of line to yell "You lie!" during President Obama's speech. He could have groaned or booed. That's what the parties in opposition do. And now he's acting like not apologizing makes him more of a man. Uh, no. It makes him look weak and stubborn and ill-bred. His mama must be shaking her head.

And Kanye? Most of the folks nominated for any award DON'T win. That's the law of numbers. And just because you think the voters got it wrong, you don't get to hop up and announce your opinion to the world. You win some and you lose some. That's life. Deal with it without looking like a doofus. Or worse. What must your mama think?

What's happening? Do we need a MOM SQUAD or something to go from town to town and teach civility? Kindness? The Golden Rule?

Shouldn't it come naturally?

***UPDATE*** check out my NEW blog Just Be Nice . . .


Melanie said...

I agree 100%, Judy! Plain rude behavior has become a badge of honor to a certain - growing - percentage of Americans, and I'm dismayed by this. I'd also venture to say the apology becomes the default; both men immediately fell back on the apology to justify their actions, not to truly acknowledge sorrow and regret for the same. That's no apology, to me. There should be consequences - but I'm not optimistic there will be.

Carleen Brice said...

I'm emailing you.

Lisa said...

I'm so puzzled, sad and frustrated right now because I've never seen behavior like we're seeing these past few weeks and I have absolutely no idea how to counter it. I'm stumped.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Melanie--I know, they seem proud of their obnoxius behavior. It's stunning. And sad.

Carleen--Got it.

Lisa--I don't know how we turn it around, either.

Katie said...

it's really amazing that kanye's ego extends to people besides himself. who knew?!

i have no words for joe wilson. actually i do, but i will not repeat them here.

Daisy said...

I was so upset with Kanye, and not just because I'm a Taylor Swift fan. He was so out of line.
And to shout out at the president? Good God, that's ridiculous!