Something Less than Decent

by David King on April 27, 2013

humanity We have become complacent. And in error, we desire to be content, above all else.

In my early twenties, I had come to the conclusion that judgment was indeed something to be avoided, at least consciously, in so much that I had no right to compare my losses to those of others; no right to judge my experiences as better or as worse. By extension, I had no right to offer advice either directly or narrowly, for to do so required a judgment of what was best for someone else. Such judgments once seemed reckless, for who was I? Whether it was complacency per se, I am not quite sure. But despite its original intentions of respect and political correctness (as well as a recognition of the natural variability in human experience and perception), my commitment to all suggestions absent of shoulds and should-nots has begun to resemble more of an easy way out. There is no risk in highlighting options; no potential harm in the suggestion that all choices made are the correct ones – so long as you go with your gut, or follow your heart. Mere passing instincts, wrapped in poetry.  Responsibility has been removed, or perhaps evaded.

We have given up on each other. We have turned our relationships into meaningless binaries of human interaction in which neither person is entirely forthright; or dare I say it, in which no one is relentlessly and selflessly protective of another. We have become cheap counselors of sorts – therapists who offer nothing of real substance in fear of a malpractice claim. We want to sound enlightened without ever being labeled otherwise, even temporarily; without ever being doubted, or questioned, or belittled by failure. We are ignorers of the homeless and the helpless and the scared, forever bound by our insecurities.

But what good are we to each other? What good are we if all we do is lay out options, recommend sound decision-making practices, and suggest purpose in all possibilities? What has happened to real advice? What has happened to wisdom?

We have all lived, and therefore we have all had experiences worth sharing. Should you decide not to impose those experiences upon a friend or a colleague does those experiences a mad injustice. Yet even if we are unable to endow our experiences with any true value (a sad state, most certainly), we still have morals to share. We have values, and beliefs, and insights…don’t we?

We have become complacent to one other. Standards have been abandoned. Morals and ethics have been diluted and nearly washed away. But it won’t stand for long, because it’s not good enough. You aren’t good enough. None of us is doing the best that we can. When was the last time you did something because it was the right thing? When was the last time you sacrificed your own needs, turned your back on ego? When was the last time you fought for what you believed in, defended your life lessons, or shared your wisdom? When was the last time you acted – no, felt – wise?

It’s time to man up – or woman up, or human up. It’s time to put aside ego and be responsible to one another again. It’s time to think about things like honour, respect, and justice. It’s time to think about loyalty and trust. Indeed, it’s time to be an idealist, for without our ideals we are something less than human; surely, we are something less than decent. It’s time to get really bothered, and it’s time we started bothering one another. It’s time to be worth something again.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judith Griffith November 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

One sad developing trend in social interactions is the seeming need to neutralize or sanitize our beliefs, values, and insights for mass appeal. Most of us want to be admired, and accepted; few of us want to expose ourselves to ridicule, criticism, or scorn, by discussing or acting upon experience or beliefs that don’t “fit in”, or are not popular.
When asked to sign petitions for or against a piece of legislation that I don’t agree with, if I don’t simply say no, I’ll usually give the petitioner the “benefit” of my experience and reasoning. The same applies to discussions among groups of people; we can have lively dialogues, which should be exchanges of information or ideas – not a circle of people nodding at one another in agreement with everything said.
No, I don’t wear a cape and fight every injustice I encounter (at age 63, I simply don’t have that kind of energy), but I do volunteer work, and help my family and neighbors when and where I can.
About 18 months ago, we moved from the West Coast to the Southeast. The thing I have learned to admire about the people here is their committment to and defense of the moral structures and traditions they were taught. Neighbors truly help and depend on each other here. Even our tiny county has food, clothing and shelter resources for the poorer residents. The businesses, as well as individuals, collect donations and sponsor benefits for those in need. Most of our businesses are co-ops; these efforts extend across state and county lines, into other small, mountain communities.
Many today are too quick to dismiss the importance of values and traditions that these people have grown up practicing. They are ridiculed for having strong religious beliefs, yet those foundations are the strength of their communities. I did not grow up with the same strength of belief, but I find myself admiring those who have, and are not afraid to admit it. They truly “live authentically”, to use a pop phrase, (which, when used in Hollywood, in usually misapplied!)


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