Friday, June 23, 2006

What is Common Decency?

My Uncle flew into town from Washington D.C. and took my family and I out for dinner. During the evening I excused myself and went to the men’s restroom where I noticed a sign that sparked my interest and made me ponder a long time. The sign simply read Common Decency Requires that One Wash Their Hands.the phrase common decency stuck in my mind and wouldn’t leave. I have not been able to shake the idea of common decency out of my mind.

What is Common Decency? It is conformity to a society and the social and cultural standards of conduct and speech. Decency requires us to hold up a correct attitude with proper behaviors, including modesty, politeness, and manners. A good reputation is achieved through an acceptable standard of living. Each person must display respect for each other regardless of their life experience on the diversity wheel. As individuals, if we place ourselves first, we can not practice common decency, and yet, today’s society is telling us it is okay to have a lack of concern for others. Our society seems to openly and blatantly offend others as a matter of norm, it is okay.

The core lining of common decency falls into America’s Judeo Christian influence and guidelines. However, in the 80’s, the music group REM sang a song called “Losing our Religion.”

That's me in the corner,

That's me in the spotlight,

I'm Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough…

By losing our Religion, do we lose our common sense of decency? If we strive for pluralism, is there any commonality? Is there any society and cultural glue? What is common about a pluralistic society? If there are no absolutes and nothing is wrong, then “If it feels good, do it.” For some reason I don’t get it or see a reason to uphold a common respect for others, if anything and everything is okay. Is pluralism another word for anarchy?

Where is the proof that we as society are heading down the right path? Has any pluralistic city been successful at taking care of the homeless, the poor, the sick, and imprisoned? Has the crime rate fallen in cities claiming pluralistic values?

As America struggles to undue our more traditional values, including the “Golden Rules,” we must ask ourselves this question, is it together we stand, divided we fall or divided we stand and together we fall?

As I looked around for Common Decency, this is what I found:

Radio stations use offensive profanity and most television shows exhibit profanity in their programs. Movies portray indecency. I see individuals throwing cigarettes out of car windows with no concern of others and the fire danger that could impact others drastically. I see offensive bumper stickers everywhere. Some cultural fascination for urination and the use of the middle finger stand out. People desire to blatantly offend. We live in a time where it is all about “me!” There is no us in me.

Our society as a whole has too many individuals, no longer thinking of others before opening their mouth and/or acting.

If it feels good to “you,” do it! If it makes “you” happy, do it! Is common decency a deciding factor in either one of these statements? I ask, “Where has common decency gone?” A few lack of common decency examples include: shopping carts not being returned to a safe place, road rage with negative verbal and nonverbal Communication, and even an incident at Sam’s Club, a shopping incident. I was in a long line and the lady at the front had two baskets of goods to buy. This inconsiderate lady had emptied one cart onto the conveyor belt and then realized that she had forgotten an item. This lady (too nice of a term) left her items and basket and everyone in line behind her, to go retrieve a forgotten item. We all waited. The humor of it all is that she forgot an item called Preparation-H. Prep-H is used to relieve one’s itching hemorrhoids. I smiled and thought to myself, “Lady, you better rub that ointment all over your body, as you yourself are definitely a pain in everyone’s bum.” I laughed out loud.

Rules, customs, mores, traditions – they are necessary and worth keeping if they give guidance and continuity to life; however, if they block the regard and respect, including trust of others, we must change them.

People, all people must come first.

Diversity demands tolerance, but we can’t allow tolerance to become a beast of intolerance. Is there hypocrisy in diversity?

Hear my cry: Practice Common Decency!

Practicing common decency isn’t easy. This practice requires the use of self control. Self-control requires great inner strength that most Americans may or may not have. I urge you to practice common decency. Look for ways to build up rather than tear down.

Globally (culturally), "Losing Face" is inappropriate and yet the Western world seems to thrive on it, in a lack of common decency...

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