the salt is on the briar rose

smdaisy Dreamed that another driver pulled a gun on me and insisted I let him pull ahead in the traffic lane. I politely agreed. My friends didn’t like it, but hey, he had gun. This dream-born incident turned my thoughts to the recent assault in New York on a woman who asked another, who was talking loudly on her cellphone in a coffee shop, to please lower her voice. The cellphone talker cussed out the woman, threw hot coffee on her, shoved her down, and kicked her. The victim had fortitude; she chased her attacker, called the police, and had her attacker arrested. So–how hard is it to be considerate of others? Is it necessary to talk on a cellphone loudly enough for God to hear in Heaven and Satan to hear in Hell?

These days it’s risky to ask someone to not do or stop doing something that is wrong or inconsiderate of others. The possibility of being flayed with f-bombs, having a hot or cold beverage thrown on you, and/or being physically assaulted runs high.

What’s wrong with people? What’s wrong with people is they lack a sense of consideration and a sense of shame. When those two values are missing (and they are values), honor too is not present. The degradation and loss of consideration for others, of shame (which helps us to keep our conscience clean), and of honor speaks poorly of people, reflects darkly on society, and places us all in an ever-narrowing circle of isolation and alienation.

Afterall, who wants to risk harm when all they want is to pass easily through a public doorway, to enjoy a movie, or not trip over someone’s extended legs? Violent reaction to a polite request freezes communication and compassion. We’d all like to think that these incidents are infrequent–but they’re not.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence 
and the weeds of yesteryear,
like criminals, 
they have choked the breath 
of conscience and good cheer. –Bob Dylan, Every Grain of Sand

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3 thoughts on “the salt is on the briar rose

  1. Yes, I recently did a prompt for my memoir classes about what has happened to manners.
    There were some interesting writings on the subject. I heard a British guy (obviously a visitor or newcomer here) telling someone on the bus today how when he had first rode the skytrain without notice he’d sat in a seat marked for disabled. A man accosted him and started berating him about this. He appologized for his error and moved to another seat. The man kept on berating him, by then actually threatening him and calling him names. The visitor finally exited the train and the man followed him still threatening to assault him. Obviously a mental case, but just the same, what an impression to give to a newcomer! Unfortunately there’s a lot of these louts around.

  2. Regrettably, I don’t see it getting any better, either! How can we restore what has been lost? The transmission of values from generation to generation has been growing steadily weaker. Those who take a stand are often extremists themselves (far-right types who want to roll the clocks back to the 1950’s and include narrow-mindedness and bigotry, etc., as part of social reform). We need to hold on to what’s good while moving forward. Not easy.

    I really think the great disparity of wealth in this country is part of the problem. Funneling wealth to the top has deprived “normal” people of the income to maintain stable home lives for their families. With both parents working to make ends meet, who’s raising the kids? And 40% of kids are now raised in single-parent homes (or something like that). Social decay is definitely tied to economics. The past several decades have seen a fundamental shift in the way the super-rich do business, and along with it they have deprived the working class of what it needs to maintain a healthy, functioning way of life.

    Those are my two cents, which are now worth .0001 cent. I’ll have to work overtime to make up the difference, which means I won’t be spending time with my friends and family.

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