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Civility, or lack thereof

“Don’t you stand there,” a gray-haired senior citizen sitting in a lawn chair hollered as I tried to take a spot along side the fence on the visitors’ side of the dugout during a recent softball game.

I recall thinking a moment and recovering my thoughts enough to quietly say, “Is that a request,” to which the crusty curmudgeon barked in response, “I’m telling you.”

Never met the gentleman, and for goodness sake I hope he doesn’t act that way at home, but I can surely bet he wasn’t an extra on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

Civility and manners, whether in politics or everyday life, seems to be lacking in some respects compared to yesteryear.

I recall my parents teaching me the Golden Rule and to respect and obey my elders, including my teachers and neighbors.

They had permission from my parents to discipline my brother and myself if they saw us doing anything wrong, which sometimes we did but more often didn’t do for fear of a spanking.

Simple manners have escaped us.

I remember a friend of mine who complained to me he would hold the door open for someone only to see them rush through without a simple “thank you,” to which he would reply in frustration, “you’re welcome.”

That would often draw angry stares from the offending party, but my friend had made his point.

People are in such a hurry nowadays they may not realize how brusque or rude they may appear to others, and I’m probably as guilty as anyone.

I do try and take a deep breath before I utter something I may regret later.

That happened to me several years ago at a Dixie Softball tournament after I overheard a rather ungracious remark coming from a parent of a player on a team competing with a Halifax County team for a state championship.

My remarks, directed to no one in particular, were overheard by the parent, and I had to own up to them.

Once, while at one of my jobs in Richmond, I got so frustrated I got up from my desk, went downstairs and walked around the outside of my office building to cool my jets.

I’m nothing but an imperfect human, and the first step in being civil is remembering how to act in front of others, and it begins with respect.

It seems to me that the “gotcha” style of politics that inundates us on a daily basis has taken the place of reasonable debate.

Moderation is frowned upon, and anyone who exemplifies over-the-top behavior seems to be not only respected but admired in some media circles.

Just look at the antics of a number of Hollywood “celebrities,” and you get my point.

Intelligence does not excuse arrogance, nor does a pretty face excuse a smug and indifferent attitude.

There’s nothing wrong with being called “a nice guy,” other than you’re considered by some to be a weak-minded wimp and wishy-washy.

So be it, and do unto others, as you would have them do unto you definitely applies.

Civility counts.