“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.”
“The grace of the gesture is as important as the victories.”
<please> Everyone just accept that as a Life truth.
So having a European look on in horror at how an American acts is an ongoing event … since almost the dawn of … well … dawn <of every day>.
But now it is not just Europeans looking on in horror … we, as in you & I, are also looking around dumbfounded by some of the behavior we are seeing in America.
Study after study after study <I just saw another one today> is showing that men are acting more like assholes, white supremacists are acting more like white supremacists, anti-Semites are acting more like anti-Semites, politicians are acting more like caricature politicians, everyone named Homer is acting more like Homer Simpson and, in general, any aspect of our internal asshole in anyone is coming out.
I am certainly not suggesting we should all be studying Emily Posts’s Book of Etiquette but behaving well should be about behaving a little better than absolutely essential and not behaving a little worse than absolutely essential.
Whether you believe there is a direct relationship or an indirect relationship with Trump … or any relationship I imagine … it is happening at the same time Trump is happening.
Coincidence or correlation? … pick your poison.
There are a couple of things that seem to be happening.
Political correctness backlash.
So let’s say that 90% of that 90% say stupid shit with no bad intentions … this translates into a semi-made up-factoid that almost 80% of all people are getting slammed by political correctness and the majority of them mean nothing bad … they just suck at articulating their thoughts.
Sure. Many of those people will attempt to get better at articulating what they feel & think … but, in general, this means a shitload of well-meaning people harbor some bad feelings toward not being able to just talk the way they talk.
And then … well … along comes Donald J. Trump … a 70 year old man who sometimes talks like a junior high school bully and sometimes talks like the well-meaning guy at the bar <although he is certainly not well meaning> who has ‘one too many’. A significant portion of us think “whew, finally, an excuse to say all the things I just want to say without having to weigh every word I say.”
There is nothing inherently bad about saying what you are thinking.
Inherent is what I just shared is … well … you start behaving a little more like an asshole <behaving badly>.
Think of this as the puppy set off the leash. The leash gave them some freedom but, once off, they go wild with no boundaries … in general being a boisterous puppy and being the unbounded happy assholeish puppy … at least for a while.
At some point they recognize maybe not that the leash was good but that the leash kept them closer to their owner and some of their assholeish puppiness isn’t received as well as they were sure it would be received – and they start going back toward the leash holder and maybe curbing their puppiness a little bit.
My point is the asshole factor has increased but I imagine at some point it will revert back a little closer to what political correctness suggested was a good thing <at least one could hope>.
The fly in this ointment is Trump. He has no leash, has never been on a leash and … in fact … seems to believe leashes are inherently bad.
He is not exactly a great role model for puppies <or people>.
I am pissed because it seems everyone else gets a break and I do not.
Trump only views the world as winners & losers, i.e., if you don’t win you are a loser. Well. What this does is encourage all of us to think of the world as a simplistic fight over limited resources where the other guy/gal is competing for your share. In other words you lose if they win.
If you believe this … or this thought even bleeds into your consciousness on occasion … well … you start behaving a little more like an asshole <behaving badly>.
I am certainly not blaming Trump for all our increased bad behavior but he is certainly an enabler with the whole win or be a loser mindset.
He embodies a toxic resentment toward everyone who has something he believes is his – and this attitude bleeds into how he views America. Germany, NATO, China, Mexico, whomever … all has shit that should be ours. Money, trade, power, etc. him his rightful place in the world.
Symbolically <to those who claim he has a racist muscle> … this is quite like the resentment of an old white man who believes everything is infringing upon his ability to access the pride, power & pay that rightfully belongs to him.
Just like my puppy on a leash example … this is like a puppy who grows up alone but realizes that going to the puppy playground is a shitload more fun … and even more fun if you behave well.
The fly in this ointment is Trump. he doesn’t want to play with other puppies, he hates the puppy playground and says … well … puppies are losers … I want to be a lion or the leader of the wolf pack <and fuck whatever female wolf I want whenever I want>.
Trump treats everyone outside his immediate family members as people who are out to deny him not only from what he wants but also what he believes belongs to him <this attitude bleeds into how he views America and other counties>. This is not exactly a great role model for anyone who is not part of a rich powerful family <and I could argue it isn’t a good role model even for them>.
He is not a particularly good role model if we want to encourage the belief the country is a team which needs to work together, make some sacrifices for the other team members so that the team benefits <and will never go 365-0 in a season>.
We all have flaws and the system, society and institutions are flawed. But just because it is flawed doesn’t mean an asshole president should suddenly set a new bar for behavior that is so low it makes a guy’s junior high school locker room actually appear slightly dignified.
But I imagine my point is that the bar for acceptable good behavior has dropped significantly. Studies show it. Shit. Just watch the people around you or watch some tv and you will actually see it.
I think we all know that Life isn’t just solely about winning and losing. I think we all know that some basic good behavior isn’t something that needs to be dictated but rather it is simply something good for common humanity within a population with a desire to have better things and do better things than we are doing today.
I think we all know that behaving, at least relatively so the majority of the time, well has a reward that may not always show up in pride, power & pay but rather in dignity, honor & … well … certainty.
Good behavior by the bulk of a population tends to lead people to a certainty that society will treat them more fairly, institutions will treat them more fairly and the world, in general, will treat them more fairly … because we can become more certain we will be less screwed more often because people will behave less badly more often <plus … we are happier this way>.
In the end.
I do believe we are behaving more badly.
And while I have the studies and I have the research I don’t really need them. I can just turn on the TV and watch a president who behaves more badly than the majority of the typical high school student. With this kind of role model why wouldn’t a significant portion of the citizenry believe they could behave more badly than they had been behaving the day before?
Suffice it to say that if everyone took one step backwards in their behavior, given the wide spectrum of current behavior from good to heinous, it just doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
We are acting more like assholes every day.
Even the people who are trying to stand up against the assholes.
If I didn’t want to be that harsh I could have said “it appears our level of courteous behavior toward each other is declining” but I didn’t … because research is clearly showing our inner asshole is becoming our outer asshole behavior.
We will get through this and I tend to believe in the end we will end up in a better place.
But, boy oh boy, the level of our general discourse and behavior has surely declined significantly lately and I cannot wait for it to begin improving.
As I stated upfront … I am certainly not suggesting we should all be studying Emily Posts’s Book of Etiquette … but behaving well should be about behaving a little better than absolutely essential and not a little worse than absolutely essential.