As rudeness is becoming increasingly common in our culture, Americans are finding it more difficult to work with each other. Far too many people now lack morals and manners. The U.S. has become a materialistic culture full of self-interest and lacking in respect for humanity. The outward manifestation of this is an inability to get along with others.
This culture of rudeness has deeply impacted the workplace environment. Too many Americans cannot hold jobs because both employers and employees refuse to behave civilly towards each other. There is less forgiveness and there are fewer efforts being made to solve disagreements by working things out. As a result, the welfare rolls are staggering under the weight of everyone on them. Over 100 million Americans are on welfare, almost one-third of the population. Instead of changing their behavior in order to maintain a job, these Americans would rather demand more from the government. They do not consider that by taking more for themselves, they are taking from others. These rude Americans don't ask what they can do for their country, but what their country's welfare system can do for them. They feel that everyone else owes them something.
This self-centered generation has developed an attitude that they are “entitled” to be rude, entitled to cut each other down. Instead of greeting others with a smile, brightening their day, it has become commonplace to be negative and grouchy towards others, including their co-workers. Publications like the Phoenix New Times, an alternative news weekly, reveal how degenerate the culture has become. Its articles and the comments left after them are not only rude but also replete with foul language.
Movies and television shows have become so crude it is painful watching most of them. The Disney Channel, which is supposedly the television channel for children, is full of loud, impatient, hyper, crass-behaving children, teenagers and their parents. Yet the actors and actresses portraying these rude individuals are always represented as beautiful and successful. This is a terrible example for our children. They grow up believing that they can behave that way and still be successful. Even worse, they may correlate the bad behavior with success. Children idolize actors and actresses and want to emulate them. They don't understand that what they are emulating is not reality; it will not work and is just plain wrong.
People are no longer helping their families and relatives as much as they used to. Barack Obama, the president of the United States, would not even help his own half-brother when his son needed medical care. The half-brother, George Obama, called Dinesh D'Souza and asked him for the money. D'Souza, a kindhearted conservative author, immediately wired $1000 to him. George Obama thanked D'Souza, saying, “You are like a brother to me.”
Taking God out of the schools has contributed to the decline in civility. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who is credited with removing prayer from the schools, was herself a rude person. Her son became a Christian and revealed how she had treated others and her own relatives, calling her “evil.” Obviously the concept of respect is not a tenet of atheism. By contrast, the Bible provides excellent moral instruction. 1st Timothy 5:1 says, “Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father.”
Feminism has also helped destroy civility. It has turned women against men, telling women they can be just as crude as the crudest man, all in the name of equality. Instead of elevating men to a higher level, we have brought women down to a cruder and crueler level.
Children used to be reprimanded in schools for using foul language. Now it is rare to find a teacher who will admonish them. The public schools claim they cannot change children's behavior, since it is learned at home, but aren't the schools there to train our children? The public schools were originally founded not only to teach children arithmetic, reading and writing, but also morals and manners.
The internet and social media have exacerbated the problem. People feel less constrained to say something behind the safety of their computer screen than they would speak to someone in person.
There is a misnomer that it is necessary to claw your way to the top to be successful; however, ruthless businessmen like Donald Trump are the exception, not the rule. There is a reason why Trump has filed for corporate bankruptcy twice. The multi-authored book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization explains how the most successful businesses are the ones where employees treat each other well. The least successful businesses are companies where employees have bad attitudes or try to keep others down in order to promote their own careers.
The increase in rudeness no doubt contributes to why so many Americans today are on antidepressants and suffer from addictions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 400% increase in Americans taking antidepressants since 1988, with more than one in 10 taking them. 14 million are addicted to alcohol or abuse it. The number of baby boomers with drug or alcohol addictions is expected to double by 2020. Dealing with rude people constantly can be mentally and emotionally draining. Those inflicting the pain on others through their cruel remarks also end up on drugs, because ultimately, their obnoxious behavior will cause people to reject them.
William Wilberforce, a leader in the 18th century effort to abolish slavery, was so appalled by "the torrent of profaneness that every day makes more rapid advances" that he started a movement to introduce civility. Wilberforce had the Archbishop of Canterbury request that King George III issue The Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice. It called for the prosecution of those who engage in "excessive drinking, blasphemy, profane swearing and cursing, lewdness, profanation of the Lord's Day, and other dissolute, immoral, or disorderly practices.” He founded the Society for Suppression of Vice. He was effective, and by the end of his life, morals, manners and a sense of social responsibility had spread throughout Britain.
A modern day Wilberforce is needed to bring civility to our nation. The U.S. is a freer country than England was in the 18th century, so instead of making inappropriate behavior illegal, other methods to curtail it should be utilized, such as peer pressure. A leader must emerge to launch this movement. Most disputes can be fixed without burning bridges. We must retrain Americans to be peacemakers and respect each other.
Ironically, Obama cited Wilberforce's civility efforts in a speech he gave to the National Prayer Breakfast in February of 2010. Obama is no Wilberforce. Wilberforce didn't just talk about civility, he led by example. Obama uses the rhetoric of civility in order to force people to accept his viewpoints. D'Souza notes that one of Obama's favorite sayings comes from the Bible, “We are our brother's keeper.” However, Obama doesn't mean that individuals should help each other; he means the government should play the role of Big Brother, alleviating himself and others of this individual, moral responsibility.
This article originally appeared on Town Hall.