Civility, Flowers and Yoga: Where have they gone?
Pete Seeger’s song, Where have all the flowers gone? was written in 1955. As the verse goes, “Where have all the flowers gone. Long time passing. Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago. “
This song came to mind as I was wondering where has all the civility gone? The political campaigns, if you haven’t noticed, are packed with mean, rude and schoolyard bully moments. I’ve never seen anything like it. I find the contentiousness both embarrassing and sad. Scary, too.
This newsletter isn’t meant to be political in any way. It’s more about the changing ways we treat each other, what is acceptable and what is not and lack of personal boundaries. When I expressed my horror about the behavior of one of the candidates, my beautician said, “He’s only saying what everyone else is thinking.” I didn’t respond. After all, my beautician was holding a pair of sharp scissors. It may be true that we all have negative, rude, crude and uncivil thoughts from time to time. That doesn’t mean we have to blurt them out. A grown up picks and chooses what to say, how to say it and when. It doesn’t make you spineless to keep some thoughts just thoughts. My niece once said to me, “I’m thankful everyday for all the things I didn’t say.”
When I sat down to write this article, I looked in my ancient Roget’s Thesaurus to find synonyms for “civility.” A few synonyms for civility are: courtesy, politeness, good manners, consideration, polish, refinement, and good temper. Politics isn’t the only area where these civil qualities are missing. When I let someone in to my lane on the highway, I rarely get a wave from the person to whom I just showed kindness. I didn’t have to let you merge. Where’s my wave?
Many people in a customer service role have forgotten how to smile. Where’s my smile?
Call me old fashioned, but the penchant for using the “f” word in every sentence, is driving me to incivility. The “f” word has almost replaced “Uhms” and “Uhs.” According to the Global Language Monitor in a 2014 report, there are 1,025,109 words in the English language. Please, could all you “f” word users make another choice? Thank you. That reminds me. What happened to Please and Thank You? How about “Your welcome” instead of “No problem.”
We’ve all experienced or been the victim of road rage. There’s every kind of rage out there. Life isn’t easy, but how does rage help? I just heard about one of the most improbable rages: Rage Yoga. This is yoga with yelling, screaming and alcohol. Imagine downward dog with expletives. In my never to be humble opinion, we’ve gone mad!
So, in order to maintain my sanity, will you please give me a wave the next time I let you merge in front of me on the highway? I don’t need to let you merge. I’m just being civil. Will you please say, “Please,” “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” the next time we have an interaction. Smile. Make eye contact.
Don’t run me down when I’m walking my dogs and you’re riding your snazzy titanium speedster. “On your left,” would be so civil. Please select another of the million words in the English language to substitute for the “f” word. Thank you.
When I searched in my thesaurus for synonyms for “civility,” I accidentally went to the wrong page. Instead of item 894.1, I went to 804.1. Before I discovered I was on the wrong page, I was confused that synonyms for civility were words like indigence, pauperism, destitution, want, neediness, reduced circumstances and empty. The synonyms were not for civility. They were the synonyms for “poverty.” Yet the synonyms weren’t that far off. To be uncivil renders humanity indigent, destitute, needy, poor and empty. A poverty of the spirit.
Where has all the civility gone? Long time passing. Where has all the civility gone? Long time ago. Like flowers, with care, attention and intention, civility can be brought back. Plant the seed of civility in your life and watch it spread like kudzu.