A Real Need For Grace

Baby boomers, depending upon how you were raised and where you grew up, remember common decency—the simple time proven practice of grace—being respectful even if you don’t agree with someone.  Even if you cannot stand them. 

Remember that?

Do you remember the political discussions our parents had back in the day?  They disagreed and they argued.  At times, it got heated.  However, they held their tongues and their tempers.  They didn’t abandon relationships.  They didn’t throw punches. 

They treated one another with dignity. 

My grandparents and parents taught me to respect the dignity of others and that “Greatest Generation” rearing never left me.  I still practice kindness and respect with others because that’s how I was hard wired t begin with. 

Do I always practice these elements?  No…  However, when I am being an ass, at least I understand that I am and render an apology for my reaction.  I tend to become combative when someone is being rude and insulting. An equal and opposite reaction—which is not the way to handle conflict.

 

So—what has happened to us?  How did the United States of America become the Divided States of Jerry Springer? The “trashification” of America where The People have become subhuman?  When did we deem it acceptable to be so rude and insulting with one another?  When did it become okay to punch out a flight attendant or belt someone in line at the grocery store? And—since when was it ever acceptable to assault a school teacher, police officer, or an ER nurse?

Whatever happened to common decency? 

It has become socially acceptable to buck authority—to defy the orders of a law enforcement officer, assault an educator, disobey a flight crew member, hit a neighbor, road rage another motorist, and shout obnoxious words to a community leader in a public forum.  Every time I think I’ve heard and seen it all, it gets worse.  The news is never short for shocking stories of what people do to one another.

We are an angry divided society from sea to shining sea. 

Is this what we call freedom?  I call it barbaric.

Former President George H.W. Bush spoke of a “kinder, gentler America” back in 1988.  It remains to be seen just how kind and gentle we are.  We’ve been through a major terror attack and a succession of struggling presidencies and sessions of Congress.  Little has been done by government to improve the quality of life in America. Boils down to priorities. Washington doesn’t care about you. It cares about itself and getting your vote at election time. 

The top 1-percent is living well while the rest of us are at each other’s throats.  I think that’s the way they want it.  Gives them control. “Let Them Eat Cake…” is alive and well in government at all levels. Politics wins out over common sense.  

America’s civil divide is at its worst since the Civil War more than 150 years ago.  The right/left political divide.  The race divide.  The science/politics divide.  And even the divide within the two political parties. The divide today is more complex than it was in 1863.  The Dems can’t seem to get it together despite two pending elections where they stand to lose it all.  The GOP has a quest for absolute power and dictatorship. 

People are on edge and society has become violent. Intolerance has become epidemic. We want what we want when we want.

We’ve lost touch with how to respect a differing opinion in this country.  We don’t know how to listen to what another has to say.  We’re in an atmosphere of complete intolerance.  We apparently don’t know how to shrug it off and just let it go.  Petty superficial situations, such as being asked to wear a mandated mask on an airplane, bring out the worst in people. Flight attendants don’t initiate these policies – government and airlines do. Yet, flight crews get the brunt of it.

The way I figure it is simple.  We don’t have to agree.  I believe I can learn something from someone with whom I disagree even if it’s a tiny grain of useful information.  However, that’s not how the general population thinks today.  It’s either my way or the highway and people walk away.  Long standing friendships have ended over differing political opinion. Are you kidding me?  

This isn’t about simple disagreement – this is an “all or nothing mindset” that causes societies to fall—which should be a powerful message for Americans.  We are the longest standing democracy in modern history.  This should demonstrate just how fragile democracy is.  We’re at a turning point in American history.  We’d better find a way to get along or we will surely fall.            

2 thoughts on “A Real Need For Grace”

  1. This condition has been brewing longer than you think. In the mid 70’s, still in law enforcement, I got sucked into an argument with my wife’s best friend at an intimate dinner party. I did not know that friend was, nor did I fully understand what it meant that she was, a liberal, rabid feminist. The lady’s poor husband watched aghast as the woman got hotter and louder, less and less allowing any opinion other than hers on the (irrelevant here) question at hand. This lady was of my (our) generation. Since then, I have attributed most of the ills of today to our generation: our tolerance of disrespect our children show, us spoiling our children, us leading them to believe they were somehow entitled beyond all others, and indeed even some of us, in our desire to be trendy, youthful, sagacious, and “tolerant” assuming ourselves entitled, all-knowing, and somehow better than anyone around us. I blame the seeds planted by our generation. Our WW II parents, on seeing such behavior would have pounded common sense and decency into our behinds and minds. Gasp! Corporal punishment? No. Seizing our children’s attention for necessary lessons on civility. Not teaching them to blindly agree, but to have a modicum of respect and tolerance for differences of opinion. Certainly, when a mere difference of opinion was not an immediate threat. Mea culpa.

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  2. We’re on the same page… Our generation has a lot to answer for. We’ve set the trend for the way things are right now. Political correctness in an era where everyone is offended by everything.

    Our parents wanted us to have it better than they did. As a result, we’re spoiled and we’ve managed to spoil our offspring – the Millennials we like to bad mouth so much. Hell – we raised them. I am old school. I don’t beat my son – I introduce him to consequences right off the bat. What happens when he doesn’t do as he’d told. I take things away from him. When I was a kid, it would have never occurred to me to talk back to my parents. Had I talked back – I’d have been handed my keister. My father never spoke – he’d belt you.

    I am deeply disturbed by where we are today.

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