Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Uncommon Decency

A teenager wrote a letter to the Dallas Morning News recently defending the crassness of the new movie, "The Hangover". She wrote, "In today's American society, which is anything but conservative, it takes more than a dry innuendo to stir up a laugh. Vulgarity is natural and expected. If people are offended, they can choose to stay home."

Not long afterward, David Brooks wrote a column titled In Search of Dignity. He was referencing the code established by George Washington that was comprised of a list of 110 "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation."

Among the many edicts in Washington's code were commands to "endeavor to put national interests above personal interests, never degrade intimate emotions by parading them in public, and to distrust rashness, zealotry, fury and political enthusiasm."

It's not surprising that the teen who wrote that letter hadn't heard of Washington's code. It is all but forgotten in modern society, and we are much poorer as a result. And I do mean that literally. We are a morally bankrupt society, and that debases us on all levels.

Anyone who doesn't believe that the current global financial problems were caused as much by greed as economic factors, raise your hand.

Anyone who doesn't believe that the increase in teen pregnancies is caused in part by a proliferation of movies and television shows that present sex as just another "game" to be enjoyed, raise your hand.

Anyone who doesn't believe that politicians care more about their party and re-election than the good of the people, raise your hand.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. I lament the fact that we no longer have a general consensus of right and wrong, civil discourse, or a sense of what is proper behavior in public. As David Brooks put it in his recent column, "Americans still admire dignity, but the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system."

Someone get a rope and tie us back up.

4 comments:

Rie Sheridan Rose said...

Well said, Maryann. I think we could all use a copy of Washington's code. I'd love to read it. :)

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, Rie. I haven't looked for it Online, but I bet you could find a copy by doing a search.

Helen Ginger said...

After this older generation is gone, I wonder what the world will be like. The days are passing and soon there won't be those of us who remember a saner time in society.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Maryann Miller said...

Fortunately, not all young people think the same way that girl does who wrote the letter to the editor. I have three grown grandchildren who have much more of an old-fashioned approach to life and society, and I am sure there are more like them. At least I hope so. :-)