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A Higher Standard

As I was watching the funeral services and remembrances of Sen. Edward Kennedy, there were critics voicing their opinions about his life and the mistakes he had made, like the 1969 accident at Chappaquiddick resulting in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

During the endless hours of television and radio programs devoted to the death of Michael Jackson, detractors did the very same thing, constantly reminding us of the many legal battles he had to fight over his alleged affection for boys.

Every day we get reports of sport figures being caught up in the use of steroids and other enhancement drugs to improve their performance on the field.

Graphics - MDC - Standing - Pedestal

At the same time we are denouncing these people, we put them on pedestals of admiration. For whatever reason a person may have, these “stars” become heroes.

That’s a load of poppycock as far as I am concerned.

My heroes are the men and women who put their life on the line daily in the military or law enforcement. They are the fire fighters and EMT workers who risk their lives and devote themselves to saving others. They are the teachers, who have to work many hours outside of the classroom during what should be their personal time to prepare class materials, and grade assignments and tests. They are the doctors and nurses that stay up many hours, wracking their brains for the answer to some medical quandary. And they are the average man and woman who works hard, long, hot hours to bring home enough money to support their family—keep a roof over their head, meals on the table, medical care, and hopefully a few extra dollars to take the family out for a pizza and a movie once in awhile.

These are heroes. They don’t ask for glory or honor. They simply want to do their job the best they can, and never give a thought to the praise they deserve and never get.

Graphics - MDC - Paul Newman

Paul Newman, a very talented actor, and a noble philanthropist said he never understood celebrity. To paraphrase him: “I act and I am paid very well for it. But that’s all I do. I don’t understand the adoration. I’m no better than the average guy or girl. I do my job, collect my money and go home. That’s how it should be.”

We place people on high pedestals, and when they tumble we are horrified and quick to complain. Rarely did they place themselves there. We did it, and we hold them to a unrealistic higher standard.

There is not a person reading this that hasn’t led a life that would seem less than ideal under the x-rays of investigation. Everyone has his or her skeletons. At times it seems like I need more closet space built just to house them in.

Maybe it’s time we stop holding anyone to a higher standard. They are just plain folks like you and me that have been given the opportunity to do something extraordinary, and placed, many times unwillingly, in the limelight.

If you’re a parent, you are a hero to your child. If you are the friend of someone desperately in need of a friend, you are their hero. If you reach down to help someone up, then you are a hero. And if you stoop down to give aid, or comfort for someone in need, someone with a disability or perhaps a child, then you are a hero.

Let’s tear down all the pedestals. Let’s see those we place there as the same as us. After all, that’s all they are.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.


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Copyright, Aracdia University

Copyright, Aracdia University

The death of civility saddens me. If I were a man of financial means, I believe I would use a portion of my wealth to develop campaigns and programs to get Americans back on track to civility.

According to Dictionary.com the word civility comes from a Middle Eastern word civilite from the 14th century and means courtesy and politeness. Synonyms include affability, amiability, manners and tact. You used to hear the phrase “common courtesy and decency,” but not any more because they are no longer common. They have become the exception.

We have definitely become an “all about me” society, and I for one am just plain tired of it. There are parts of life where concentrating on yourself is fine, especially if you want to grow and change and become the best person you can be. But it’s not about that. Somehow we have become a culture so steeped in battle, that everyone sees life as a giant competition. Everyone is out for themselves at the expense of others. There is very little compassion and understanding. And if someone has the courage to step up and say, “NO!” to these spoiled, egocentric adult-children, then they throw a temper tantrum and try to become so annoying that you either give-in or face an explosion of arrogance and defiance. And if you try to just walk away, they come after you, threatening you at every step.

The windows on my apartment are pretty low to the ground. Two of my windows face a small patch of grass on a raised platform at the front of the building. I have signs posted, “DO NOT WALK PETS IN GRASS. YOU ARE TRESPASSING!” And yet, people still lift their dogs up onto the grass to allow them to go to the bathroom. On a nice day, if I open my windows I can smell the urine and excrement. And if I say something to them, or pound on the glass to get their attention and point to the signs, they make rude and obscene gestures or hurl a line of even more obscene language at me. Sorry ladies, but the women are many times worse than the men.

How do you think they would react if I could find out where they live, grabbed a big bear out of the national park across the street and have him take a dump in their yard under their windows? The bear and I would undoubtedly be sharing a jail cell for some time. So why do they think it’s different here?

Children definitely learn what they live, and the number of small children who sling obscenities around is mind-boggling. Had I done something like that as a child my parents would have sown my lips shut and grounded me until I was 32.

I use a manual wheelchair, and rarely do I ask for help. But put me on a sidewalk, or in a store, or a mall, and let me sit perfectly still, not moving mind you, and you would not believe the number of people who walk into me, sometimes falling when they do, than curse and blame me. Occasionally, a guardian angel will come along and ask if I need help, but invariably they are over 50. Young people just zoom by, ignoring me. And it gets even worse where there is handicapped parking. You don’t want to get me started on that.

So, what happened and when? People are just plain old rude and contentious. They seem like they are angry at the World and everyone in it. They want their way, want you to make an exception for them, and then pout when you don’t. Their lives seem joyless, much less just being unhappy. They never say please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, I’m sorry, or any of the other pleasantries.

I’m not really sure when this all started. I suppose I began to notice it in the ‘70s, but I’m not really sure how the downfall of civility started. You hear people today say that manners are so old-fashioned, that no one cares anyway, so why bother. I have even heard someone tell their child they didn’t have to be polite if they didn’t want to because that’s just for rich people, and “we’re not rich.” They see manners as phony and fake. But manners have been called the grease that makes society run smoothly, and may I add, quietly.

For one thing, I think there is a severe lack of discipline today. Parents want to be best friends with their kids, and not a parent, a disciplinarian. I know if I had screamed and run around a restaurant full of people trying to enjoy a nice meal, I would have been punished. My parents didn’t spank or hit my brother or me, but they had their ways of making life very uncomfortable. Friends of mine were recently having a meal in nice local steakhouse. Just after they had been served a boy of between six and ten ran up to their table, pulled their plates of food, along with their drinks and some of their flatware onto the floor. The male parent jumped up, ran over to the table, grabbed the boy by the hand, and said, “Oh, he’s just acting like a kid,” without apologizing. As soon as the father and son got back to their table, the father released his grip on the child’s hand, and the kid was off running around and screaming again, nearly knocking a couple of members of the wait staff over carrying trays full of food. After a few minutes of this, the manager asked the family to leave. Both the parents started yelling and screaming, making fools of themselves, and spouting off about what a dump the place is and how they will never be back. You can imagine the manager’s relief hearing that.

Graphics - MDC - Rude WaiterAnd one more thing, when did everyone become guys. I have seen tables of women get very annoyed at a waiter or waitress that comes up to the table and says, “What will you guys have?” A friend of mine in New York City stopped going to one of his favorite restaurants, where he literally spent thousands of dollars a year, when a waiter said that line. He, his wife, and their guests all got up and left, and as the manager ran out the door to see what the problem was, my friend replied, “You guys figure it out.” I find calling women “you guys” to be offensive and disrespectful and I can see where they are getting very tired of it. Why not just say, “What can I get for you tonight?”

I’m sorry to say I don’t think civility as we once knew it will return any time soon. I mourn the loss and maybe you do, too. I guess the best we can do is grin and bear it, and hope for the best. Perhaps someday we will see a return to civility for everyone and not just the rich, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.


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