Civilization’s Lack of Civility

I would have blogged about this yesterday but I thought the pictures from my vacation was much more pleasant a topic than the last week of uncivil behavior in this country.

Columnists all over the country, including western Pennsylvania are up in arms about the recent rash of uncivil moments. The Post-Gazette even made the latest three signs of this rash of rudeness a front page story.

I think the rude behavior of Kanye West, Serena Williams and Rep. Joe  Wilson is especially striking to me personally because I spent the previous week in Sidney Crosby’s home region of Nova Scotia. In this coastal region, the people could not be nicer and more civil in their behavior – WITH COMPLETE STRANGERS! They say “hello”. They talk to you and even make pleasant small talk.

I come back across the border to the lower 48 and witness three acts of rude, lewd and socially unacceptable behavior.

You know what I’m talking about. South Carolina representative shouting “”You Lie” at the President of the United States during his address to a joint session of Congress. Days later, Serena Williams did more than  whine about a bad call at the U.S. Open. She threatened to take her tennis ball and, in very descriptive and profane terms, make it a permanent part of the official’s anatomy. Then, since these things normally happen in threes, Kanye West decided to make the stage at the VMA awards his personal sounding board. Taking the mike from award-winner Taylor Swift and essentially saying the honor should have gone to Beyonce.

US Open Tennis

Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and Kanye West. This trio has America, and yours truly, wondering, where did civility go? ( Courtesy: AP Photo )

The truth these latest examples aren’t the start of incivility in this country, they are the apex of the problem that has grown over time. I don’t know who is to blame and who is at fault, but no children as well as parents are guilty of this “anything goes” mentality.

While I don’t know where this all began, I know where it all needs to end – at home. As a child, I was taught how to act when around my elders, around woman and around people in general. I learned that even if I don’t agree with the speaker ( representative Wilson ), I allow the person to have their say uninterrupted, especially if that speaker is the leader of the free world.

Hey Serena, when I was an athlete I was passionate about winning and did not take losing well. However, I never threatened to use a piece of sports equipment as a weapon and curse out the person who made a call I felt was incorrect. Finally Kanye, I know your girl did not win best music video. Still, could you stay in your seat and politely listen to the woman who did win enjoy her moment in the sun?

I guess this all becomes even more glaring because we have coming up, in our city, what might possibly be the greatest show of incivility this year. The G-20. There is a possibility of clashes between law enforcement and protestors both verbal and physical. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow the G-20 Summit was more civil than the three individuals I have just mentioned? Wouldn’t it be something if protestors and police could both do their jobs without incident?

OK, I might be dreaming but civil behavior has to return to the national scene sometime. Why not right here in Pittsburgh? We are told we are a model for everything else. Why not have the nation follow us on the path to polite behavior as well?

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