Okay, I wasn’t going to jump into the fray, the one about the sense of growing incivility in the United States, but a recent comment from a blogging buddy in Utah has pushed me in. The eyes of the nation are upon us here in South Carolina…and not for the reasons we’d like. Lately we’ve had instances of our elected officials saying and doing embarrassing things. Is it a Southern thing? Is the South racist? That’s what Burl in Utah says many of his acquaintances think.
Where to start? Let’ start at the top with our governor. Not only does he leave the state to fly to South America to visit with his mistress, but he does so without telling anyone where he’s going, not even Jenny. No one. After returning from his trip south, the governor held a press conference in which he rambled pathetically about his woes. Soul mate was used to describe this mysterious Venezuelan beauty, and the lovesick governor said that he was trying to fall back in love with his wife. Huh? Doesn’t he know when to stop talking? I actually thought that maybe we as a state were getting beyond this scandal until watching a short segment on Jay Leno this week in which he and Seinfeld held an entertaining dialogue about Sanford’s behavior.
Fast forward to last week when Joe Wilson yelled, “You lie!” to the President of the United States before both houses of Congress, before the millions of viewers tuned in to hear Obama’s remarks. Appalled at Wilson’s lack of civility, I thought, “Yet another blow to the Palmetto state’s image.” Earlier this week I read an update on the man who threw shoes at President bush. No one said merely, “Tsk tsk.” No. He served prison time in his own country for insulting the leader of another country. According to him, punishment was painful and included electric shock.
Back to Burl’s question about whether the outburst was at least partially motivated by racism. I don’t know. I do know that perhaps an Ivy League white person could be resentful of a black man who is extremely intelligent, erudite, smooth, unruffled, sophisticated, and suave. In fact, as I recall the event, Obama’s cool demeanor was quite a contrast to Wilson’s hot one.
Moving along, I might as well mention Serena Williams and Kanye West. While both of them acted in childish ways, I’m somehow more inclined to overlook Serena’s explosion, probably because it wasn’t typical of her. She was having a bad day, and that’s putting it mildly. Her behavior was unbecoming and as my mother would have pronounced, “uncalled for.” As for Kanye, his deliberate interruption of Taylor Swift’s speech was more than uncalled for. It was extremely rude and bordering on unconscionable.
So at the end of the rambling post, here’s what I think. I think America is the best country in the world to live and work and play and raise children. I also think we’ve forgotten our manners and slipped into serious incivility. We’re so much into freedom of speech and individual rights that we’ve forgotten the golden rule…and the silver one too (don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto you).
All of the above have apologized for their outbursts, hissy-fits, and behavior. Let’s learn from that and all try to be a little kinder, a little more civil…and to rein in our tempers. Please.