May 23, 2005

DEATH OF CIVILITY

When Tim left blogging, he did so because of what he calls "death of civility". Perhaps I am not old enough to notice any trends over time, but I have noticed people acting far differently than I would.

On our cruise we participated in an organized game of Scattergories. We split into five teams of six players and went to work. One of our categories was "foreign cities", which was a cinch for us. We used the name of a German city near us, knowing that it would never be a duplicate. Well, my husband and I got accused of cheating; the other teams refused to accept the name of a city they'd never heard of, saying that we must have made it up. We were steaming mad because to us our honor and integrity had been called into question, military values we take quite seriously. Our teammates were the oldest players in the room, two couples who were roughly 40 and 60 years old. The older gentleman threw a fit on our behalf, saying it was disgraceful that the other players in the room distrusted our word when we lived in Germany with the military. But in the end the young people in the room were not to be swayed. The six of us on our team left the game disgusted: twenty people thought that we cared more about winning a game than truth and honor. Twenty people thought that we were either too stupid to know the names of real German cities or too deceitful to be trusted. Twenty people thought that our accepting another team's word that avocado is a real ice cream flavor in Colorado was more natural than their accepting the name of a city that can be confirmed by any map. It was the death of civility.

I was reminded of that Scattergories incident and Tim's values when I read this exchange between a reporter and a Bush spokesman today. You don't speak like this to people in public. You don't accuse people of lying unless you have good reason to. And when you're a reporter, you really shouldn't let your complete distaste for the administration show like this.

The death of civility is all around us.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:21 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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1 Considering some of the comments left at deployed milbloggers blogs I'm not terribly surprised by your comments. It does surprise me though how heartless and cruel the anti-war types can be. For supposed peace lovers they are a violent group.

Posted by: toni at May 23, 2005 09:53 AM (SHqVu)

2 Not really so surprising, now that I think about it. To be civil one has to be civilized; one has to believe in civilization. Clearly, those on the left do not. They no longer believe in Western civilization, indeed they loathe and despise it. That's exactly their point, and our problem. So no surprise that they behave like uncivilized persons, for that's what they are. Yes, things are different now. You have a large swath of Western citizens who despise their own society, who secretly yearn for it to die. While this is not unprecedented in human history, it's not common (for obvious reasons, it's fatal) and it is also rather new to the West. It certainly wasn't like this when I was a child (born in 1954). Civility isn't dead, it's just badly wounded. The same could be said for civilization itself. This is not a time to leave the field to the barbarians, it's a time to bind the wounds and fight, because we are in a fight for our survival. The real war, the war that threatens our very existence, isn't the fight against radical Islam. The mullahs and their nutcases can, at the most, greatly inconvenience us. The real war is the one right here at home, the one that was being fought on that cruise ship. That's the one where the stakes are survival. Note how, ever since the election, things have not quieted down. If anything, it's gotten worse in some ways here at home. I think it's because the real war is just starting to ramp up. God bless us all, we're gonna need it.

Posted by: DSmith at May 23, 2005 10:32 AM (cN0XN)

3 Glad you guys had a great vacation - enjoyed the pictures that you posted. We went to St. Croix last year (I am not a good cruise person) and had a blast - very similar water! Anyways, I feel the same way about the death of civility. It's gotten to the point with me that I dislike discussing the President, politics, or the war with people that I know will disagree with me. Actually, I don't mind the rational disagreements - we all have them, and we walk away happy. But the vile spitting foaming at the mouth invective I hear nowadays makes it not worth any of our whiles. And like you, there's no greater insult to me than to question my integrity... Bryan

Posted by: Bryan Strawser at May 23, 2005 10:37 AM (0WnvF)

4 Er, just out of curiosity...what was the city?

Posted by: Jason at May 23, 2005 06:18 PM (Xo3eX)

5 Well gee how about the fact that just like the president from Tejas (Texas, in the american idiom) of forty years ago this one has lied us into a war. Oh I know you don't think he lied, but the facts are that Iraq had just about ZILCH to do with 9-11, let alone the fact that it was hardly a threat to us. You really need to study the history of this nation a bit better, you might realize that while we often had "good intentions" we were blundering buffoons. Does not the Christian expression: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" apply anymore?

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at May 23, 2005 09:07 PM (aHbua)

6 I think if we all listened to the age old adage that it is best to not discuss politics or religion in public, we as a society would be better off. That being said, it ain't easy to do these days. But, we still should try.

Posted by: Sean at May 23, 2005 09:15 PM (cl3Om)

7 Sean..I have never understood that adage, and still don't understand it. How on earth would you have a democracy without discussing religion in public? How can we possibly exist as a polity if we are each to live in our own hermetically-sealed cells without communication?

Posted by: David Foster at May 26, 2005 01:20 AM (+c+ME)

8 From today's Washington Post: "Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq." Makes you wonder what parts of our society are most responsbile for the breakdown of civility. If I find this sort of behavior disgusting and counterproductive, does that mean that I "yearn for the death" of my society? No doubt someone will say terrorists don't deserve civilized treatment, and they may be right, but surely a civilized society wouldn't put anyone into that category without some due process.

Posted by: Pericles at July 14, 2005 03:25 PM (hHudX)

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