Take Loving Care

People these days are more authentic than they were when I was a child and certain set behaviours were required. Now, you don't have to eat quietly, call an adult by their honorific, or open the door for anyone else. You can use whatever words you want. Other people's offence is their problem. There are few boundaries left in our culture.





It's wonderful that people are now free to be their true selves in so many ways. At the same time, though, with the lifting of repression has come a significant loss of social grace. I was always taught that etiquette, decorous dress, and codes of conduct were the expression of care for each other. I was an adult before tv started allowing offensive material to be screened (with heavy warnings out of consideration for those who might be disturbed.) Now violence and crudity is so pervasive in regular programming that it goes unannounced. Portrayals of anti-social behaviour (especially on teenagers' shows) are the norm. In social media, cruelty is rife. And a day spent walking about town will easily prove that many people disregard others or show blatant disrespect for their concerns.





I wonder if people are truly happy in our unrestricted culture. With fewer social responsibilities towards other people, we certainly have more personal freedom - but at the same time we all know that going out in public is no longer particularly safe. We may find ourselves jostled, stared at, abused, threatened, disrespected - and that's just during a visit to the supermarket.

The idea that we should take care with other people by using good manners and showing respect is now disdained. We are told to look out for ourselves first. Women especially are told that taking care of others is a negative thing (including our own children and husbands). We are given endless advice on how to care for ourselves instead. Consequently, we can not trust that other people will care for us when we need it. Open the door for us when we are carrying bags of groceries. Eat quietly so we don't feel sick. Offer us a polite good morning when (although they don't know it) we're feeling lonely and low.

And while we are now free to fully be ourselves, does our culture support us to be our best selves? Or is the truth that it really no longer cares about us at all?

I'm not advocating a return to repressive mores. I only feel that we've lost something very precious - a certain kindness embedded in our culture. A responsibility to take care with each other. And we can never really get it back again.



{Joining the Wise Women link up}

15 comments:

  1. I hope we can get it back. I agree that we've lost something precious.

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  2. It's what I've always said. Under that thin coat of varnish, we're still monkeys. What happens the second we lose electricity? Looting. "hey, nobody is watching, we can do what we want!" And what do we want? Fighting and stealing apparently.

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  3. I heartily, heartily agree with all of the above. I'm not a pessimist, but I sometimes wonder if it will take some kind of crisis or cataclysm to shake up and shift this culture of entitlement. This cult of the individual. It troubles me, deeply.

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  4. this culture of entitlement. This cult of the individual.

    Yes, exactly!

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  5. Whilst I recognise that it has value in some situations, the whole 'How you react to me is your problem not mine' thing drives me crazy. Which I suppose is my problem : ) Still drives me crazy. What kind of society is not considerate of how they make others feel?

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    1. Elizabeth WaggonerApril 9, 2015 at 2:11 AM

      I DO agree with this part. While we are much improved by being honest and true to ourselves, nowhere does that give us the right to create misery and discomfort for other people. Being honest does not equal being mean.

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  6. I hear you! Being empowered or liberated is important, but it's not a license for selfishness, a lack of consideration or unkindness. It seems that in today's world people can't seem to distinguish bewtween which is which. The crass and harsh manner of people I encounter in public really bothers me, because respect and kindness are such simple things that seem to be lost.

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  7. Elizabeth WaggonerApril 9, 2015 at 2:08 AM

    Yes - and no. There is a lot about authenticity and honesty floating around out there these days. I've been exploring it a lot myself lately, but I'm not sure that's where we can place the blame for bad manners and lack of social grace. Being honest is one thing - being rude is another. I tend to think people have gotten overwhelmed. Too busy to teach their kids anything about manners, too busy to actually RAISE their children correctly, too busy and overwhelmed to take the time to be kind themselves. In a world where we have everything at our disposal to make life easier and simpler, instead of slowing down to enjoy all the minutes that are saved - people just heap on more and more activity until they are driven by the momentum of it all. Like being pushed along in a flood. ( It's one of the reasons I love your blog - because I see you instilling kindness and grace in your home and family. )
    I'd like to believe that these issues will run their course and there will be a shift - but I'm not sure it will happen. I see a lot of things promoting kindness and a gentler, more helpful way of living - but it's going to be a long haul. I totally agree about TV and social media, though. ICK.

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    1. Just to explain - I wasn't blaming bad manners on "authenticity and honesty." Actually, my original draft included the things I do blame it on, primarily what you yourself mentioned here - parents actually raising their children, and the disposable consumer society. I wrote "authentic" in italics because I was being facetious about the way society has shifted its values from community to the individual. Happiness is now top of the list, as opposed to doing the right thing.

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    2. Elizabeth WaggonerApril 10, 2015 at 6:21 AM

      Oh - Absolutely! It seems like everywhere you go the underlying whisper is "What about MEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!" I think my personal version of authenticity has a lot more to do with learning who I really am and being able to define it to myself, both good AND bad. What I see though, which is what I think you are talking about, is that people will say and do the ugliest things, and then follow-up with "I'm just being honest", as if that is justification enough. Now that the internet coated with buzz words like "authenticity" and "real" (too bad - they're good words) young people especially seem to latch onto the words without ever exploring the truth behind them. Authenticity and honesty are inherently good things - but it's fascinating how easily every good thing can be skewed into something messy, isn't it?

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  8. To my mind, people are less authentic today than they were when I was a child. It seems to me that social norms still govern our every move, though the norms have changed dramatically. Society now values personal assertiveness, casual dress and address, crude humor, busyness, etc. I can't tell you how many times I have introduced an adult to my children as Mr. or Mrs. so and so and the adult has said, "Oh, please, that's my mother/father. Call me _______ (insert first name)". As a woman at-home, I have experienced condescension, and sometimes ridicule, for my occupation, which is not appreciated in contemporary society. Last week, I had jury duty, and during our lunch hour, the other women had an interesting conversation about their work and their children's activities. I did not feel I could join in without expending a tremendous amount of energy explaining myself, so I sat quietly on the "outside" of the group where I so often find myself in social situations. To me, the current culture is repressive; I feel like a fish out of water--extremely uncomfortable much of the time.

    Your blog is a refreshing place where people feel valued even when they are challenged in their thinking. Kindness and gentleness reign here. ♥

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    1. You make a good point about society being just as repressive now. I spent a couple of hours writing this post, and most of it was discarded. In the original, I wrestled with the fact that a woman who wants to wear feminine clothes, or stay at home with her children, etc, is just as repressed as others were at other times. Of course, society has been trying to mould people into one particular conformity or another since forever.

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  9. Just quietly catching up on my blogs :D... if you visit the States, come to the Deep South. For all the culture's faults (and there are many), there is something wonderful and heart-warming about the famous "Southern hospitality." There is an air of caring and uplifting one another, saying hello to strangers, calling elders "sir" and "ma'am." There are places where this still occurs and I have found myself enjoying it, even when it gets religious.

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    1. although, if you visit the States, I also have to recommend the Northwest as well. (Seattle, NoCal) -- It seems your style ;)

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  10. Amen amen amen. Gail

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