August 26. Becoming less tolerant

August 26. “Civilizations do not give out; they give in. In a society where anything goes, eventually everything will.” (John Underwood)

I am going to start this post sounding like quite a grumpy old man. Things today aren’t what they used to be. When I was a kid, kids had respect. They minded their elders, spoke when spoken to, and were polite in society. People dressed respectfully too. Girls and boys both dressed modestly. Underwear was kept on the inside of clothes, skin wasn’t on display unless you were at the beach. People didn’t swear in public. “Locker room talk”, was just that, something that wasn’t done in public.

We have become a tolerant society. I am not talking here about tolerance for people of different nationalities, religions, or sexual orientation. We have become tolerant to those too, but that is a very good thing. It has helped our society grow. I am talking about the tolerance we all have for rude, boorish behavior, overly-sexualized dress and talk, and just generally more behavior that would have made my great-grandmother cuff someone in the ears.

I watch what is on TV and it makes me shake my head very often. “Reality” TV in most of its forms seems to capitalize on the most base instincts of people. From teen moms, to bridezillas, women are shown in some of the most awful light. Many other shows depict men as nothing more than sex hungry animals who have no care for or respect for women, and see them as just mere toys. Shows like the Bachelor and Bachelorette have turned courtship into a cheap game show.

I worry about us. I think the crux of this quote is true. I think that the more tolerant we become, the less discipline we have, the worse we become. Again, I am not talking about tolerance for people who are different. I celebrate the fact that people of all races, religions and sexual orientation can thrive. I am talking about the tolerance for just plain old, bad behavior.

I am not alone. I talk to many parents who work hard to raise their children to be good citizens. They are taught to show respect for elders, and to mind their manners. They are taught that they should be modest about their bodies. They are taught to respect one another. But, I worry that we are the dying breed of parents.

Today my reflection is more of a prayer. I pray that parents will find and nurture the resolve to teach their children well. I pray that we will continue to accept those different from ourselves, but not to accept behaviors that are crude, and rude. There was a time when you could say that something was crude, rude and socially unacceptable, but too often that third piece is missing. Too often it is crude, rude and tolerated. I pray that we collectively get our heads out of our asses and take back civility in life.

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