Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh the Humanity

The coverage of the sucide of a college student humiliated by classmates brought up a base theme I have been concerned with for awhile.  When and why did we loose our humanity toward others?

There used to be a moral code.  People used to treat each other with some basic respect.  There were fights and disagreements but people seemed to respect a certain line.  Over that line and you were not part of regular society.

That moral code protected most people from public humuliation.  Most people would not do things that would bring shame on themselves or others in public.   

Of course I am not so naive to think that this isn't a huge generalization.  There were exceptions, but they were few and far between.  You didn't regularly see a person strike another in public.  You didn't regularly see someone's intimate details broadcast for all to view and judge.

But it isn't the exposure that concerns me, it is the willingness to commit the act without thought to how what is done will hurt the person who is the recipient of the act.

When did we give ourselves permission to treat others like they didn't matter.  Like we were the only thing that mattered and it was OK to blow up at someone because we were mad or humuliate someone for our entertainment.  People are our brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or what they believe, and they deserve our respect.

It starts with intentionally interrupting someone speaking, or cutting across traffic or in line.  After all I have been waiting and I deserve to go next.  The one thing that really gets to me is when I'm at a counter in a store and the clerk, who is supposed to help me, is talking to a friend.  The conversation continues even though I am standing there with the item I want to purchase dangling from my hand, addressing the counter.  Why do you continue to talk to your friend about your day off and let me stand there?

The internet has hastened this age of vanquished morality.  What used to be an act by a crazy guy in your home town that only you and your friends witnessed, is now available for all to see.  But is isn't just the internet.

We have been given permission to do these things to each other.  We think it is funny to see someone punk someone else.  We think it is entertainment when a husband sends in his video of his wife with her hair stuck in the dishwasher. 

Our acts in public are now potentially videotaped and available for playback by any authority to review in the event a crime was committed.  Even this blog entry would have been relegated to my deepest thoughts or revealed to a close friend rather than laid out for the whole world, a potential employer, or my friends, to see. 

I don't know where I'm going with this.  I don't think I can reverse the tide that is moving in that direction.  I guess I am just asking each of us to consider what we do before we do it.  Consider how it will feel to the person on the receiving end.  We owe it to each other to treat our fellow humans with respect and to expect the same from others.  We should follow a moral code of kindness and respect even when the majority won't.

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