I mentioned last week that I’d been put off my stride by a couple of encounters on the walk I take prior to sitting down at this endeavour. In an effort to exorcise the vestiges of this event, I’m going to ramble a bit.
The first of these encounters was purely observational. Some young chap was yelling at a similarly youngish woman (early 20s, let us say) in front of the access to a shopping mall. I’m not given to eavesdropping as a habit, but there was no avoiding hearing the harangue. He was apparently upset with some mutual female friend, who had spurned him in favour of some other fellow– he seemed to blame the young lady he was yelling at for not convincing the object of his desire that she was making a mistake.
So far, this is unhappy, but not unpleasant. The unpleasant aspect comes from the language in use on both side, which I will describe evasively as “salty”. Why do I care? Because occasionally I take my toddler son through that very door. Because other parents do the same. Because it’s just plain rude.
The other encounter involved me directly as I was crossing the street. I stepped onto the street at the change of the light, and by the time I was halfway across, a car in the far curbside lane had crept almost entirely across the crosswalk, and as I kept moving, so did he, the nose of his car actually sticking into traffic. Rather than walk into moving traffic while my back was to it, I amended my course to pass behind the goof, and said to him (as still he crept), “The light’s still red,” in what I’ll admit was a somewhat harsh tone.
The response I Bowdlerize as, “So what?” There you have it, folks– civilization in the very act of crumbling. I will blame media to a certain extent, for it is but a reflection of the do-as-you-like attitude that had developed since… the 1970s, perhaps? The roots were in the ’50s and ’60s, but I think the ’70s is when the brakes really came off. I am, as I’ve previously mentioned, a realist, and I don’t think the massive social constrictions that this letting off of brakes is a response to was that great, but there is a middle ground to be had. I don’t want to be in a position of being able to say to someone, or have said to me, “Mind your station!” but I’m also not a great fan of the current standards of public scatology. It doesn’t to anything but elevate the blood pressure and lower the possibility of a mutually satisfactory conclusion to any discussion. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and the problem is now afflicting the way we govern our nation.
For the moment, I will do no more than try to be a good example and to raise my son to some kind of standard. I can curse like the proverbial sailor, but I chose not to except in suitable contexts (because, “Say, you have parked your car on my foot. Bother, that stings so,” is deeply unsatisfying). I think it’s important to understand that one can be civil without being servile.
Today’s pen of well-considered statements: Sheaffer Valiant TM touchdown
Today’s ink of reason: Diamine China Blue (which is indeed very Delft-ish)