Civility in Decline–Another Article (Local this time) and Terry Mattingly's Thoughts Also

Alert blog readers may recall our post of a New York Times article on this subject some time back. our local paper has now chimed in with an article entitled “What happened to our manners? In hurry-up world, civility on decline.”
It includes the following:

No longer can we rely on a firm handshake or neighborly familiarity, according to etiquette blogger, author and social guru K. Cooper Ray, a Charleston resident.

“I blame the transportation revolution,” Ray said. “Once upon a time, we were citizens of a small community, we answered to neighbors and family.” There was a certain individual accountability. “Now niceties can be forgone with impunity. There’s a good chance you’ll never see that person again.”

It’s the “fast-food effect,” he said, the speeded-up pace of life that discourages the formalities of civil exchange.

. Read the whole thing and compare it to the earlier Times article and also Terry Mattingly’s thoughts thereon.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Media, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

3 comments on “Civility in Decline–Another Article (Local this time) and Terry Mattingly's Thoughts Also

  1. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    It is true that the issue can be considered very complicated, sadly. One missed point, I believe, is religion’s hypocrisy. Some of the rudest, most vindictive and power-hungry people I’ve met are those that consider themselves “religious”, “devout” or “spiritual”; and the majority were allegedly Christian.

    One example that comes to mind(now deceased at a young age; it’s easy to wonder about the mind-body connection) was extremely bright, gifted, and an asset to his community, when he wasn’t acting like a megalomaniacal, narcissistic nut. If this man could not be in the position of being everyone else’s “evaluator”, he was crazy, officious, and off-putting to the extreme. In the relatively small community where we lived at the time(~ 75,000 residents), we watched him do these sorts of things in his church, hockey league, workplace, school board, little league and the various boards on which he served. By the same token, he did a lot for community development and local fundraising that benefited many in his sphere. All the while, he considered himself very “religious” and “devout”. He was effective at a lot of things, but so much of his behavior did not look in the least bit Christian. My spouse literally saw him turn purple once when he was rightfully told “no” re: an unfeasible project he wanted to undertake. His funeral was well-attended with lots of praise, but the whispered word in the back channel was “peacock”. The town has suffered somewhat without his presence, but in a lot of other ways it is better off without his chaos, drama, and overblown need to strut on everyone else’s turf.

    There is always the cliche of “taking the good with the bad”, but how much is enough of the latter?

    I’ve seen it on a corporate basis, too, whilst living in another town; not that small at 1/3(or so) the size of the one above, but #2’s hallmarks include a huge subculture of severe racism(most of it amongst “Christians”)–the town is technically western but has a large Southern element and flavor, and things don’t go over well when any northerners, Pacific “westerners” or midwesterners move in and “accidentally” treat the minority populations WAY better than the “natives” do–God forbid. And then it becomes a cold war or war of gossip and innuendo; it can’t be the Hatfields/McCoys anymore because most of the locals DO have enough sense to fear the local penal system. The town has, and has had for years, a real gift for running out its pastors, city managers, doctors, teachers, and publishers of the local paper; anyone who might be able to influence things for the better. And then it whines that it suffers from a lack of economic development and/or federal monetary support–shock of shocks. And it’s the kind of place where you think things are going well and everyone is so nice, and then you find a knife not only buried in your back to the hilt, but sticking out your front as well. Thus, time to be on your way, regardless of the individual needs you or your family may have.

    I no longer live there but have spoken with other expats who couldn’t get out of there fast enough; most say they simply couldn’t believe the place. And yes, with a majority of “devout Christians”, too. I think a lot of them believe that they can do whatever they want, but as long as they say the Confession once a week, and/or their buns are in the pews, anything they do is fine and it will all be ok, with God or anyone else. If they someday find out otherwise, I won’t be surprised in the least.

    On another blog I recently noted someone speaking of surprise that ~ 70+ year-olds were acting in what was, to her, a very immature fashion. Pray consider, and have empathy for, all the doctors, therapists, and/or clergy that may be in your lives because that is NOTHING new to them; they deal with that every single day. And it truly does not matter if someone is 7 or 70, those ages can surprisingly act the same. Another acquaintance left his wife of 50+ years for a local girl in her mid-30’s who was known to have a new boyfriend just about every month. The “old guy” didn’t last long, but treated his spouse, adult children, and grandchildren to a messy divorce and figurative grenade explosions in his original household–didn’t matter how old he was, his actions were about as senselessly questionable as they could get.

    So meanwhile, I pray that, whilst we exist in a broken humanity, it will actually embrace the teachings of Scripture and learn to be a little less broken; maybe along the way, still remembering that a smile and “please, thank you, excuse me, sir, or ma’am” are not “wrong”, “demeaning”, or “weird”. And I also hope it remembers that it is also wrong to use those on a regular basis, but still slide bayonets into others’ guts whilst you are being sooooo polite to them.

  2. magnolia says:

    i’m sorry i don’t really understand your post. one person who bullies the town who claims to be Christian is a minority, albeit more noticeable because of who he was.
    the other example really wasn’t clear on specific situations; i know from living in a small town that whe outsiders move in, they usually try to change and dominate the place with whatever political persuasion they came in with under the guise of ‘progress’. i liken it to having a guest come into your home and then demanding that you change the place to suit them.
    northerners do this with nary a thought of how their manners and attitudes come across; also they tend to look down their noses at southerners in general (i.e. the comments section of the nyt’s article) which makes it even more confusing as to why they would move to a place where they despise most of the inhabitants.

  3. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    It is possible for one individual(and he’s only ONE example) to bully a town depending on the position of power that the person is in, and that particular person WAS in a pronounced position of power. Part of his problem was that he believed he was in other positions that he was not in, thus trying to make EVERYTHING in town his fiefdom. And it did not matter whether or not he was a “minority”, his behavior was still wrong. I am well aware that anyone who claims Jesus as his Lord and Savior is a Christian, and I also know that all earthly Christians are sinners. But, this guy’s behavior was so awful all over the place that it was truly sad that he referred to himself as “Christian”–the reality was that he was not taking many of the teachings to heart.

    Re: “specific situations”, that would make for a post like a novel, which I’m not going to do here. Suffice it to say that, many people concerned were not trying to “change and dominate” that place/town, and most went about their business in a polite way, regardless of where any of the transplants were from. And being kind to the minorities in that town(mostly blacks and Hispanics), patronizing their businesses, and socializing with them, should never be verboten anathema but in that hole it was. Perhaps people can succeed in that particular town if they’re willing to hold meetings in secret and bring their white sheets; I for one, and many others, want absolutely nothing to do with those sorts of sick things. One of the “churches”(term used loosely) in that town had had ~ 17 priests in 20 years, and another, as of last year, had no paid staff–it had run the pastor, music leader, youth leader, and secretary all out of town. Many times people have to move because of job loss and/or job availability.

    It’s true I was born mid-Atlantic, and I married a Southerner. I have never “looked down my nose at Southerners” or “despised” them but plenty of swipes have been leveled my way by same, on various subjects. I’m happy to coat myself in Teflon, consider such trite stuff pathetic, and go on about my business. Sadly, in a lot of ways, there’s much “oil and water” out there, as my Southern psychologist friend described when he attended a conference in NYC with therapists from all over the country to discuss these issues. No matter what common ground they tried to come to, the net result of the “talks” was that a lot of the Southerners thought the Northerners were rude, and a lot of the Northerners thought the Southerners were hypocrites. I wish we could do better, as we are supposed to be the USA, as opposed to 50 countries. But, on some scores we still have a long way to go. Prayers…