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R-e-s-p-e-c-t: Where’s the decency?

Morning, UP

January 15, 2011

Mind your manners: Words my mother not only said but enforced with great emphasis in my growing-up years.

"Mind your manners" were words that came to mind in my absolute horror in watching the coverage of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last weekend.

On television, as often is the case with breaking news, "the facts" regarding the shooting seemed to veer wildly from moment to moment. In the race to be first, the news channels often forget there are family, friends and concerned citizens watching, waiting and wondering who do not deserve incorrect information being presented as truth.

On the Internet, it was even worse. On several websites, the congresswoman was declared dead when she was actually only heading into surgery to repair damage caused by a gunshot to the brain.

But even worse were some of the Internet comments, anonymous of course, about the shooting itself.

Some comments are too heinous to repeat. Others were beyond insensitive and downright rude, saying Giffords got what she deserved, citing totally crackpot reasons.

It all got me to thinking about where has civility gone. This story was an unfolding tragedy, which in the end took six lives, wounded 14 others, tore up the world for scores of loved ones and horrified MOST of the nation. Most, that is, because by the comments being made on the Internet, some people lack the tact to keep their ignorant responses to themselves and the compassion to understand how unnecessary this incident was by nature.

Manners, at least as I was taught in my long-ago youth, are not fancy airs. Instead, manners involve politeness, concern for others and respectfulness. They should be a fundamental element of life but far too rapidly, they are becoming as antiquated as a rotary telephone.

Basic manners are becoming a premium instead of a staple. Some every-day examples?

People are parked in the fire zone at my community's grocery store nearly every time I visit there. If the violating parker was an elderly person who was unable to find a designated handicapped spot to use, it wouldn't be so bad. But more often than not, the offender turns out to be some able-bodied 20-something who is too lazy to walk a few extra steps to go buy that pack of smokes.

That's just plain bad manners. And also illegal, by the way. How it would make my day to see one of those vehicles towed away as the owner watches slack-jawed in confusion.

Another sign of lack of the simplest of manners is people not wiping their feet when they enter someone's home or a place of business. Here in snow country, it's only polite to use the doormats set out for that purpose.

Instead, others are forced to slip and slide through puddles of snow and water created when someone tromps through with snow-covered shoes or boots.

Perhaps that's a little thing to some, but to me, it's rude. And little things really do add up. Lack of manners makes every day rougher than it needs to be.

There are few manners in the world of politics any longer and the sports nation is filled with people who are completely boorish in expressing their way of viewing things.

Minding one's manners would go a long way toward quashing dumb arguments. It would restore at least a modicum of civility to a world in which political differences are now expressed with a bullseye or even worse, a bullet; in which people are bullied for their sexual orientation; and in which fists fly just because fans of certain football teams can't get along.

As Aretha Franklin wailed oh so long ago, "r-e-s-p-e-c-t..." It's what we need to have for one another, now more than ever in the tumultuous history of humankind.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is rprusi@miningjournal. net.



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