Living in a Post-Civil World

I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that people were already comfortable with being rude to others long before Trump was elected president. I will say, though, that having a president who spends his days insulting people on Twitter does go a long way toward empowering people to do the same. But, the lack of civility started way before Trump and extends in to every part of life, not just politics. The political side of it just gets all the news.

Anyone who works with the public has to have noticed that people say please and thank you a lot less than they used to. It’s amazing the number of times I’m on the phone and at the end of the transaction there is complete silence as I’m waiting for the thank you and the other person seems confused as to why I am still on the line. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has seen the people at Starbucks who won’t end their cell phone call long enough to place an order and act like it’s n imposition to pause for a second to give a drink order and then go back to the call for the duration of the transaction. I was cut off on the road last night because the another driver wanted to assert his dominance and not let me merge on to the road. This happens a lot. Kids are no longer taught how to act in public. Kids run wild in inappropriate places and the parents feel insulted if someone calls them on it and asks them to parent their children. Social media is full of people insulting everyone who has a differing opinion. You know this if you’ve ever read the comments. Never read the comments.

Take all of that, add in hatred of people not like you, add empowerment from your leaders and we get the world we are living in now. A world of people who already decided social niceties no longer matter and now are empowered to go further. We are moving from general rudeness to outright hostility.  Every day on Facebook we see friends and family on Facebook empowered to spew hatred towards others based on religion, race, sexual orientation, politics, etc. I guess that is good. I’d rather know who the bigots are than have them hidden under politeness.

We have now reached the point that a call for civility is met with resistance. We have decided that if one side is rude and nasty, then we should be rude and nasty as well. I’m not saying not to protest, not to speak your mind. I’m not saying not to point out when someone is a racist or a homophobe. I’m just saying try being a little nicer in your day-to-day life. Say please. Thank people who help you. Put your phone away while ordering your coffee Smile at people. We can’t fix the fact that our leaders are terrible people, but we can make the rest of the world a little better.

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Some Observations About Posts And Comments I Read Yesterday

If you spent your day defending someone who posted racist comments online, I am going to think that you think it is OK to be a racist.

If you are going to boycott a network because they don’t want to employee a racist, see above.

If you think the fate of a racist sitcom star is going to divide our nation to the point of danger, you must not think much of our country.

If you are defending the person who did this, but think football players kneeling during that song should be kicked out if he country, I will question your motives.

If you are OK with Roseanne being fired, but mad about the men who were fired for sexual harassment, I will assume you think men are superior to women.

If you think it’s OK to punch a Nazi or throw water on a conservative personality, I think you need to learn some civility.

I don’t care if the racist is a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t care if the sexual predator is a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t care if the person assaulting someone for their beliefs is a Republican or a Democrat. Actions have consequences so don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

Judge Not

Hello! Welcome to the Month of Tater Day 6. Are you sick of me yet? I bet you are sick of me. Oh well, here is my latest post:

Recently, a 17 year old girl was hit by a car. Unfortunately, she has since died and the driver of the car has yet to be found. When it first happened, I did the thing you should never do – I read the comments. It happened not to far from my house, so I looked at the comments to try to determine if we knew the girl who was hit(we didn’t). The comments did have a lot of the normal human being type comments of “so sorry” and “our prayers are with the family” but there were just as many “why was she out at a party that late at night?” “where were her parents?” “I know where MY kids are at that time of night” type comments. Basically, they were implying or saying outright that if she had been a “good girl” like their kid or if the parents had been “good parents” like them that this would not have happened.  If that is all you have to say when a 17 year old girl is fighting for her life you should really just shut up and stay away from the internet. You aren’t helping anyone and you are mouthing off without knowing anything about the girl and her parents. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

An email goes out to my neighborhood that teens were robbed while walking down the street at 10pm and the response is “Why were they out alone at 10pm?” I would never let my teens out alone after dark!”

I was on a jury and the first thing someone said when the case was turned over to us was “Why was he even out at that time of night?”

Women are raped and people want to blame them because their clothes weren’t “appropriate” so they were “asking for it” Same happens with cases of sexual harassment.

It has become more and more common to blame the victim or judge others when bad things happen. Can we just stop?

It’s Us vs Them and We Are All Losers

I will admit that I stole the idea for this from an article I read in the Washington Post recently. The writer talked about how we’ve reached the point that after an event like the shooting in Vegas everyone waits for the report on the shooter hoping they are on “their side” not ours. One side is hopeful that it will be someone who can support their travel bans. One side hopes it is a white male gun owner so they can push that agenda. Some hope it is a democrat so they can talk about anti-gun conspiracies. It’s us vs them and we are all losers.

The us vs them mentality is everywhere these days. The Harvey Weinstein news comes out and people are giddy that he is a democrat. Great! One of theirs! Now we can hit them with the fact that he donated money and use it to smear them. The same happens on the other side when it is someone like Bill O’Reilly. Maybe we can all just agree that men who do sexually harass and assault women are bad regardless of their political leanings.

I’m all for political debate. If you read this blog regularly, you have seen that I’m not afraid to make my feelings about the current administration known. I just don’t think that everything should be us vs them. Can’t we all agree that someone who kills multiple people is bad regardless of their background or how we feel about gun control? Can’t we call agree that sexual predators are bad regardless of their political leanings or wealth?

It seems that we have reached a point that we are so divided as a country that nothing will unite us. I fear that even in the face of another 9/11 we would still be divided and arguing instead of coming together to heal. At some point we need to try to remember that we are people first, not political party.

Tater Takes on United, Hitler, Egg Rolls and A-Holes

  1. United: Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen the video of the man being dragged off a United flight to make room for United employees who needed to fly. To be fair, United only ever said the skies were friendly. They never promised to be friendly before takeoff or after landing. I might consider adopting this management style. No volunteers to take the desk shift? Let me re-accommodate you. I like it.
  2. Spicer and Hitler: So, Sean Spicer when talking about Syria actually said Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons: “We didn’t use chemical weapons in WWII. We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” He then tried to clarify with “he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing” I think it’s time for a visit to the Holocaust museum. I’m sure he would be allowed to do that on work time. I’m sure the alt-right is pleased with the thought that he might not consider Jews people.
  3. White House Egg Roll: It seems based on recent reports that the White House is way behind on the planning of the White House Easter Egg Roll. I can see the reason behind this now: “President Trump, we need to get things going on the egg roll” “I love egg rolls. I like to dip them in ketchup. But no egg rolls unless the Chinese pay for them” I’m glad we got a chance to take our kids to the event when they were little. It was a lot of fun. Too bad it looks like it won’t be well planned this year.
  4. False Equivalence: I’m not really sure if that term applies here, but it’s the closest thing I could think of for this section. I’m tired of seeing people argue that we shouldn’t help refugees until we help homeless veterans. Why can’t we help both? I saw a comment on the topic of drug addiction saying we shouldn’t spend money on treatment for addiction because kids have cancer. Again, can’t we fight cancer and drug addiction? No one is saying we should only help refugees or only fight drug addiction and I think the people with the false arguments know this. They just don’t want to help refugees or drug addicts, but it sounds better to say they care about others than to say they just don’t like these people. I wonder how many of them are actively helping homeless veterans or donating to organizations fighting cancer.
  5. People Suck: The last couple of days I’ve had some situations that remind me that most people only care about themselves. They can’t take a minute to stop and think about how their actions might affect other people. There is a knee jerk reaction to do what is easy for them instead of some consideration for others. I’m not claiming to be a saint, but I like to think that more often than not I try to do the right thing and help others when I can. On days like this I sometimes think that I’m done with that. I’m going to become the asshole who only cares about himself. I never will though(unless I already am and don’t realize it. The asshole is usually the last to know) I don’t think I could live with myself if I did that. Please, stop and think about your decisions. Do the right thing when you can. Try to be a positive influence on the world. Look outside your personal bubble and think about those around you.

Currently Reading: Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century

Friday’s Random Tater Thoughts

In an effort to avoid doing something productive on my day off , but with no one topic I want to address, I bring you another random collection of Tater Thoughts. I know you are excited.

Powerball:  Unfortunately, I did not win the Powerball this week. This means I have to continue trying to be a productive member of society with a job and stuff. I do have a plan if I ever win, though. I wouldn’t quit my job right away. That would be too suspicious and people might figure out I’m rich and want money. I would keep working for a little while and then one day overreact to something, go on an epic rant about everything that has ever annoyed me over the past 20 years and storm out. Of course, now that I’ve posted this everyone will know if I do this then I have become wealthy. Time to come up with a new plan.

Weather: I know that 70 degree weather in February should be a reminder that global warming is real and a serious problem, but I can’t help being very happy about it. The older I get the more I hate the cold and the snow.. I would happily move somewhere where 70 degree February is the norm, but I also don’t want extremely hot summers. I fear, though, that I will be in Maryland forever.

Political Stuff: This week the Trump administration ended the Obama guidance that schools should allow transgender students to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.  A good portion of the people out there who agree with this move somehow believe the untrue assertions that this will reduce the rapes that have or will occur if transgender students are given the right to use the restroom they want. I have yet to see any reports of any rape stemming from these policies. Many people also applaud the move because they hate, fear or don’t understand the transgender community. What you need to understand is that other people’s’ rights should not depend upon your personal feelings, your religious beliefs or, really, anything to do with you.

Civility: Lastly, let’s talk about civility. This election season and the first month of the Trump administration has been marked by a lot of harsh words, insults, etc. I know that people are angry about the election and about most of what the Trump administration stands for. I know people on the other side feel empowered by the win and think the rest of us should just shut up already. Passion about your beliefs is great and I’m all for protests, calls to Congress, posts on social media, etc to make your voice heard. I will continue to post when I have something to say about political issues. I hope my friends continue to post their thoughts as well, from both sides of the issues. What I would like to see less of is –

posts from incendiary/slanted news sites(Infowars, Breitbart, Occupy Democrats) designed to make people mad instead of inform

name calling. you can get your point across better and get people to listen more with reasoned debate without insults.

dismissive comments – if you just tell me to shut up and deal with it, call me butthurt, sheep, etc I will stop caring what you think. This does not help at all. feel free to disagree, but disagree with facts and debate, not this stuff.

hate – this one most of all. Way too many people out there saying Muslims don’t belong in our “Christian country” that people in the LGBTQ community are mentally ill, unnatural, etc and don’t deserve to be treated equally. Too many reports of racist and anti-Semitic violence and vandalism. Too many attacks on people who aren’t like you. Please stop. You say we are a Christian country, but then you act like the complete opposite of a Christian.

Disagreement is good, but we will get nowhere if we can’t learn to disagree and debate civilly

The Little Things

Recently at church part of the message talked about holding the door for people. I recently saw a Facebook post where someone shared a list of things they were going to do and one was “hold the door for strangers” I’m not writing this to brag(though I am pretty awesome), but I have always held the door open for people. All people. Men, women, young, old, friend, stranger. When did we become the type of world where such a little thing becomes something that needs a reminder? Did we stop because people stopped saying thank you? Are we only being nice for the acknowledgement? Did we stop because we thought people would be offended b the idea that they couldn’t open the door for themselves? Is anyone out there reading this offended when someone holds the door for them?  I know it is a little thing, but little things matter. You never know when a little thing can have a big impact on someone. Here are some little things I can think of that can make the world just a little better. Add some of your own in the comments.

If able, hold the door for strangers.

Before snapping your order at them, say good morning to your barista and remember to thank them.

Pay for the next person’s order in the drive through.

Smile at people you pass on the street. Say hello.

If you are in school, sit with someone who eats lunch alone.

If able, give your seat on the train to someone who might need it.

Be nicer on the roads. Give people room to merge. Wave a thank you to those who let you do the same.

Maybe once we get in the habit of doing the little things it will lead to some bigger and better things.