today's telegraph has an article about how rude young people are these days.
it begins in an amusing way:
"Young people have always been rude, far ruder than anybody else. It goes back at least as far as Jane Austen. Remember how, in Emma, Frank Churchill left all the doors open, exposing poor fragile Mr Woodhouse to a draught? Even the Queen, aged 19, knocked off a policeman's helmet on VE Day, so she once told the writer Hammond Innes."
ever since i moved to the usa, there have been many times when i felt people were being rude. i usually put it down to cultural differences. i am not talking about those awful moments when i realise i am thinking just like a granny i am thinking in my day one knocked before entering a room and stood up to greet people and offered one's seat on public transport and let older people through first and cetera. i mean i was taught to do that, although i do not remember any kind of lessons - it was just understood that there were certain ways to behave and one should always be polite.
the thing that makes me angriest with regard to rudeness is probably call waiting. i am talking to someone. someone else wants to talk to me. they beep my conversation. the idea is (although i usually ignore call waiting unless it is a critical situation at work like an impending death and then i explain that to the person with whom i am actually speaking) that i now have to choose which person gets priority. even considering leaving the present conversation is rude. weighing up the relative merits of the 2 people is rude. rude rude rude!
o dear, i appear to be slipping into a rant. hopefully back to the point - what does the english newspaper article have to say?
"Many middle-class parents appear to believe that ''manners'' are some kind of appalling spiritual restriction on their darling child's individuality. How dreadful that little Ben or Zoe should have to take a polite interest in Aunt Marge's adored collection of house plants. In many households a separatist regime is operated where the children either eat in another room or appear at the table only intermittently during meals. They don't talk to adults, they don't ask or answer questions, they have no small-talk, they don't learn anything; they are stuck in the narrow perimeters of their own interests and experience."
ah yes, blame the parents!
at this point, the religionist in me does start to wonder ... gosh this is hard to figure out how to say ... i am thinking about how a sense of one's place in the universe affects the way one lives ones life. i may not be able to get my head around how infinitely minuscule i am in the larger picture. i do, however, need to know that i am not the centre of the universe. and i also need to understand the effect my behaviour has on the here and now.
so where am i with this at the moment?
however bourgeois i am, i still find it hard to abandon the motto "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need". for me this is the ideal. how on earth to get there is a whole other problem. that is what comes to my mind at first. next, i hear the great rabbi hillel saying, " what is hateful to you, do not do to others", and he continues, "that is the whole torah - the rest is commentary. now go and study it!"
you don't have to love everyone. how can you love EVERYONE? but you do have to treat them with respect.
as a jew, i may look to the writings of my bible and its commentaries for help in developing my abilities to create healthy relationships during my life. i do not believe there are pat answers in these texts, but rather they encourage me to engage in the process of finding meaning, and thus help me take the first step of being active in my own development. o dear - am i making any sense?
for some reason, it always takes more energy to be pleasant rather than mean.
whether it is torah or other sacred scriptures, or philosophies, or disciplines; i believe that we need some kind of structure or path or whatever you wish to call it.
we need to develop the strength to not be mean.
unless you like the world the way it is right now?