Rats In A Cage
By Jim Kuiken
I was commenting on a Facebook post that I didn’t particularly agree with one day, and one of my nephews replied with a comment that both pleased me, and made me sad all at the same time. I was pleased because he appreciated the civility, but sad because he said that I always responded to things I disagreed with civilly, never using foul or disrespectful language, anger or vindictiveness…which he said was so unusual to see nowadays.
Right after that, I noticed a post by an individual that I felt very sorry for. He was so obviously filled with hate and anger towards the world, and felt that it was appropriate to spew his vile and filthy language and complete disrespect towards someone who had never done him any harm, and to my knowledge, is a person who shows genuine love and care for his fellow man. Pope Francis. His comment (filthy expletives deleted) was basically about ‘who did the Pope think he was, he’s not Jesus, he’s never done anything for us, why is he here in America’, etc… This young man seemed to think that the way to get attention was to make his denouncement of the Pope as hateful and personal as possible, either as a means of ‘trolling’ for fun, or out of genuine lack of any civility at all. Unfortunately, this seems to be more and more prevalent all the time.
I don’t have a problem with what someone else thinks, or even says, as long as it is civil and respectful of others, does not interfere with other’s freedoms, and does not deliberately harm others (like the Westboro Baptist Church, who I find absolutely disgusting).
Society is changing rapidly. Some changes are good, some are not. I was at a restaurant bar with my family some time ago, and there were three young men sitting at the corner of the bar next to us, using foul language in a place where there were families and children. I leaned over and addressed the one who didn’t seem capable of speaking quietly, or in a sentence where every other word wasn’t the ‘F-bomb’, and asked them to tone it down and stop using those words in a public place. He told me this was America, and he could say whatever he wanted. I replied that there were families including children present, and he said “so what”?
My reply was not as nice as the first one, and I basically told him that if he could not control his mouth, we could go outside and I would help him control it…or we could have that discussion right there, right then. Then he comes out with “I’m a veteran, you don’t want to be hitting a veteran”. After I explained that I was a multi-war combat wounded 30-year veteran, and I was still willing to have that ‘conversation’, his friends finally told him to shut up and they left.
Where has all the civility gone? Here are two thoughts.
First, we’re all Rats in a Cage, and it’s inevitable. This is the logical conclusion from the studies of Dr. John B. Calhoun, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., and his study of overpopulation of rats and mice in ‘Utopian environments’ in cages. Summarized, it says that:
The death of Civility is inevitable. Or...here's a thought...do humans have a higher intellect than mice and rats? Are they capable of basing their social behaviors on either a Higher Being and the morals of love and caring for each other, or, for those who don't believe that, at least behaviors and courtesies that help nurture and preserve civil behaviors towards each other in a civilized society? (yes, the redundancy of "civil" behaviors and "civilized" society is deliberate here)
In today’s society with all the strident and opposing political opinions, different belief systems, racial and ethnic strife, electronic substitutes for real interaction and friends, and all the other differences, we seem to be fracturing into more antagonistic and uncivil groups, or just becoming more anti-social in general. Like the rats in the cage.
Nature or nurture – the unsolved question. I continue to believe that nurture can overcome nature if we choose it, and the continued existence of civil society does require civil behavior. Disagree with others all you want, believe what you want, and act like you want…but please, do so civilly and with respect for others.
Image Copyright: pacoayala / 123RF Stock Photo