Sunday, November 04, 2007

Are You Decent?

I realize that I am 48 years old. How I became 48 years old is no mystery. I was here, the whole time, or at least for most of it. I have slept some. I consider myself to be a decent person, certainly raised to be so. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling quite out of the mainstream in this regard. We are becoming an indecent society. It hasn’t happened overnight. We’ve seen it coming. Do I feel this way because I am only six months away from my AARP membership?

I read the obituary for Paul Tibbetts (pilot of the Enola Gay), this Friday. In it, his granddaughter said, “He didn't want a funeral because he didn't want to take the chance of protesters or anyone defacing a headstone.” It resonated with the article I'd read on Thursday, about a successful lawsuit against the completely misguided church (a gross understatement) that protests at soldiers' funerals. Whatever your politics, funerals are not the time and place for polemics. One indecency does not justify another.

We were out, trick-or-treating, on Wednesday. We saw two girls, no more than 15 years of age, in costumes that did not belong on them, at all. Halloween has been co-opted into an adult event, and the result (I actually typed out 'reslut' - which is not a word, but captures the concept) is that costumers provide adult-themed costumes in all sizes - dress up your 9 year-old daughter like a french maid - isn't that cute?

Television is a wasteland. The ability to tell a joke without naming body parts is now a lost art. I love comedy, but not what I see so much on TV, lately. I don't want to censor it, but at least keep it off the air until after 9 p.m., maybe? Social responsibility is part of what it means to be decent.

Worst of all, we now expect to be treated indecently. We rationalize our own selfish, rude behaviors because it's the way things are. Assert yourself, be first, make sure all of your needs are met regardless of the condition anyone else around you is in. When we are wronged, we don't want to be compensated, we need to be over-compensated. It's resulted in a wierd social tapestry of fake manners and idiotic, insincere responses to simple mistakes. Sincerity is a function of decency.

I may not be presenting this very well - call it a draft, from some impressions I've had this week. I want to pique your conscience, as mine has been, about what it means to be a decent person, this week.
I open doors for everyone. I take my turn. Am I a decent person? More to the point, for me, how do I communicate what it means to be a decent person to my children? Aaahhh, quite a different kettle of fish - or is it?