I am reminded of something I heard recently. It was about the need of our culture to be more civil in its discourse. It goes beyond the usual sniping in our political life, and the feeding frenzy of reporting “news”. It’s just that we are not very nice to each other.
I heard that the number one free app from the Apple Store was yet another social media application. We need more? What on earth did this program do that was so appealing?
As it turns out it mimicked the current apps, but added an anonymous comment feature, supposedly to get useful feedback. Somebody realized that people were creating bogus profiles in order to “get the truth out”, and thought they would add this feature, because people wanted it.
Now, it didn’t take me long to figure out what road this was going down. Haters love to hate, and if it can be anonymous, with no consequences? Well, people will go there.
With a little self analysis, I know that I’m not going to participate in this. It’s not that I am a fully realized moral person. I have issues! I’ve done very good with the big issues: I don’t lie, I’m not very envious, I haven’t murdered anyone, I don’t steal, I’m not venal. I’m mostly a pretty good person. But I have issues, little ones, but they are still there.
Reasonable people are not blind to their own faults. They know that they have them, sometimes they rationalize that the faults are small, or that they are righteous in feeling that way… We sometimes are just stuck in our human frailty. We know we shouldn’t feel this way, but we do. We see that other people do not seem to have this problem, but that doesn’t matter, because we still feel what we feel. How do we address the unrighteous feelings, when we cling to the reality of feeling them?
Can we take solace that the faults are small? Well, sure, it’s better to be a little unforgiving than to be a mass murderer. At least I hope so! I guess it depends upon who is doing the judging.
I find that I cling to the absolute kingdom of my car. I enter the vehicle, and I rule, (and I obey the rules mostly). And when the older gentleman in the neighborhood waves at me, I do not wave back. He waves at me because he thinks I’m going too fast. I am going slightly above 25, but not 30. I ignore him, but not completely, for at least a few blocks I have thoughts that are not kind, or neighborly. Ha! I say.
I am a different person in my car.
It’s a small issue, but is it contained? The automobile creates this space where you can’t effectively apologize for your mistakes. You are isolated and you can only be alerted that something is not right. Often the response is simply to speed away, and get some distance from the incident. There is nothing worse than cutting someone off, then having them pull up next to you at the next stoplight. Suddenly my neck is longer working, I can only stare straight ahead.
I’ve wondered why someone hasn’t invented an electronic apology sign, or why hasn’t the makers of automobiles installed a bright blue light that you could hit when you have offended someone, and you are sad about it. Nope, it’s never going to happen because we choose to mutter, and perhaps go into road rage, rather than to work things out.
But it is a small issue, contained mostly within my vehicle. However, I have noticed that when I’m in line at the grocery store, that I have some of those same feelings. I count how many items that the person in front of me has. Are they in the wrong line? They don’t seem to have their money ready, they can’t remember their PIN number. THEY ARE PAYING WITH CHANGE!!
Perhaps I have carried in my “incivility” from my car.