The other day my partner pulled out onto a main street from our neighborhood. For the most part, he is a cautious driver. Another car came careening down the main drag as he turned and forced my partner to pull over to the side of the road. The driver of the other car, a big, burly man, also pulled over and started to berate my partner and yell obscenities. He even threatened to beat him up.
My partner, who is not in contention to win the Golden Gloves competition, apologized but urged the other driver to consider whether he’d been driving too fast. The other driver didn’t want to hear it. It is a country road with a 40 mph speed limit. The other driver then followed my partner to his destination, where he continued his tirade. Fortunately, he eventually decided to leave.
Altercations of this kind have increased exponentially over the years. Anger has become an emotion that is used frequently, and in myriad ways.
When I first became involved in Facebook, it seemed a gentle and fun way to interact with people. Now it seems more like a forum for sharing thoughts and feelings that should be kept within the confines of your home or expressed in a therapist’s office.
Having dialogue about issues on which there are differing opinions can now lead to being unfriended, or worse. Brawls can begin almost anywhere now if someone or something appears to be a threat. I have witnessed threats being made to individuals who were perceived to be cutting into a line. Discussions by panels on news shows often become shouting matches.
What’s happening and where is it headed? From my experience and what I have witnessed in my many years on this planet, I know that we are no longer listening. Instead, we are responding as though we were being pursued by a behemoth.
Another factor is the lack of civility that continues to permeate our society.
My mother and I had many a brouhaha, but I have never admired her values as much as I do now. Her daily admonitions resonate with me now more than ever. “Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking to you.” “Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.'” “Treat people like you want to be treated.” “Listen more than you talk; you might learn something.”
When I was a young adult, I tried desperately to tune out those admonitions, but luckily osmosis kicked in. My mother’s words languished in my brain for years, but they are now coming from my lips to anyone who will listen.