Manners – Education that Matters

good mannersI just read an interesting article about how private industry has entered the education business with what some people would call Manners Classes.

The classes teach children as young as five things like making eye contact and smiling when they meet people and also which fork to use at the table. They try to teach skills that are necessary for people to get along socially. I didn’t know what to make of the story to begin with. These are the sorts of things that were generally taught to children by their parents and that they need to have these classes outside the home is at first off-putting.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that people are less polite than they used to be. The article suggests that social media bears part of the responsibility in that people communicate without physically being near one another far more than in the past.

Certainly the anonymity of the internet comment section allows people to display the worst kind of vicious and boorish behavior without any consequences. Even the comments below the article in question were often nasty and ill-mannered with the person making the comment not grasping the ironic nature of their missive.

Read a blog, watch a news broadcast, listen to a politician, listen to your neighbor at Christmas dinner tonight and tell me where you see decency. Where do you see people listening to the ideas of those who don’t agree with them? Where do you see people politely discussing their differences and finding reasonable compromises?

If you see what I see, it won’t come as a surprise to you that children lack manners, lack common decency in dealing with others, lack civility, lack the ability to compromise, lack the qualities that will carry the United States through the difficult times ahead.

I’m not opposed to classes that teach politeness and manners, I’m for them. However, I recognize that you can take as many classes on a topic as you want but if you are surrounded by mean-spirited nastiness, with inability to work with those that don’t completely agree with you, with people spewing angry rants who think their words are the only ones that count; well, children are going to follow those examples.

If we want children to learn to work together and accomplish things, if we want children to engage in real discussions and compromises that benefit the United States, if we want children to make the most of their lives; then the best way we can accomplish it is to lead by example.

The next time someone expresses an idea different from what you are advocating, take a moment to examine it for its real value. Look at the idea and forget your preconceived notions. Take a moment to research the facts. Speak politely with the person and express your ideas on why they are wrong. Understand that the world is rarely black and white, that most ideas have at least some merit. Consider that others are looking to you as a leader, as an example.

When you are watching the news or reading a story take the time to examine both sides of the issue with an unbiased perspective. Take a little time to do some research and read up on both ideas. Consider that there might be a compromise that allows for the good ideas from both sides of an argument to best achieve the goal. Consider that the ideas you promulgate might have drawbacks.

In other words, set a good example. That is, if you think being polite and mannered is a benefit to society. If you think people having the ability to work together rather than shouting each other down is a good idea. If you are for implementing your will completely once you have enough power to do so, then perhaps you like the way things are going in this country.

If you think the next generation is impolite, ill-mannered, and unwilling to compromise, then it’s because they learned it from the previous generation (you).

As simply as I can distill it, show some class.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

I Paid for my Ticket! Rude at the Game Explored

Rude FansI’m a huge sports fan as almost anyone who regularly reads my blog knows. My mother is a season ticket holder for the St. Louis Cardinals and I’m the same for the St. Louis Rams. I go to a healthy number of games each year and it seems to me that boorish behavior is on the rise lately.

I could be wrong about this. It could simply be me getting older and less tolerant; although those who know me will tell you that patience and tolerance are not character traits of mine. I’m not one to put up with stupidity and rudeness.

I’ve noticed an increase in haters and shouters at the games in the last few years.

Anyone who follows a sports team with passion will know of “haters“. These are people who predict dire results and are happy when the team loses or a player fails because they were right. They revel in the misery of fans who want the team to succeed. They dominate the comment section of sports stories and incessantly call talk radio shows to express their opinion.

They are now not shy about expressing their hate, loudly and repeatedly, at the game itself. No longer anonymous exactly but in front of a crowd of strangers they feel it’s perfectly acceptable yell out obscenities and vile words at those players who have engendered their hate. They ruin the experience for those around them, by golly they say, “I paid for these tickets.”

I remember as a kid people booing a player for making a bad play. I remember sarcastic applause when after a series of blunders someone made an ordinary play. I even remember people shouting out things like “you’re a bum”. What I don’t remember is the vile, unadulterated hate that strongly overrides rooting for the team. What I see now is a larger and larger group of people who want the team to fail, the player to fail, and cheer only halfheartedly at success. They only seem happy with a failure that validates their hatred.

As for drunks, there have always been drunks at games. I probably see fewer of them these days.

The reason I bring all this up is that I had a pretty nasty experience at the Rams game on Sunday. There was a group of about six guys near me who were clearly pretty drunk but of a good nature. They cheered the team a bit too loudly but I found them perfectly acceptable. They were in body-paint which is apparently against the rules because security made them go get shirts. This caused one of them to become belligerent for a bit but he settled down quickly enough.

What was the problem was that others felt the need to crowd around them, to encourage them into stupid acts, and generally obstruct my view of the game. It gets old after three hours. I paid for my ticket also, I want to see the game and not be subject to random people constantly standing in my way and not paying any attention to the game.

The mere presence of these loud, drunken fans seemed to encourage louder and not so happy fans around us. If they can be loud and drunk; then I can be louder and more rude seemed to be the message taken. One fan continually shouted in my ear, from behind, for the entire game. I was four rows away. I can’t imagine being right in front of him. He shouted things that had no correlation to what was happening on the field. He was shouting for the sake of being seen and heard. Super annoying.

A hater in front of me kept shouting out nasty comments at our quarterback, Sam Bradford, who has not had a great season. The hater really drew fuel from the drunks and was hand slapping with them continuously. I’m not exactly a Germaphobe (technically mysophobia) but there are lines I won’t cross and high-fives with ushers (who have touched hundreds of strangers) and people who are clearly drunk and have probably urinated on their hands is one of them. Anyway, we put the game away with a late touchdown pass from Bradford and the hater, who has been bashing Bradford all game, is slapping high-fives with everyone around and I’m not going to do it. So now he’s mumbling and claiming I snubbed his greasy, likely urine-covered, hating, hand.

As he’s walking away he calls me an asshole. I’m pretty grumpy at this point. I paid $200 for my two seats and have essentially had my eardrums, sensibilities, and view harassed for three hours. I tell him to fornicate with himself. He keeps walking but it could have gotten ugly.

I do think people have the right to cheer loudly at a game and to boo sub-par efforts. I just think that at some point the rights of the fans around you dictate you mollify your behavior. I’m not opposed to standing and cheering the team, which forces others nearby to stand, but I think standing at inappropriate moments and for long periods of time is rude. That blocking the view of others wrong.

If someone doesn’t want to touch you then why do you care? People are looking for a reason to be angry, maybe they’re unhappy in their lives away from the games, maybe they’re just miserable people. I don’t much care. I’m not a miserable person. I enjoy my life. I root for my teams. I want them to succeed. I try to be careful not to intrude on the people around me, verbally or physically.

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive but I’m honestly thinking about giving up my seats. I still enjoy the games very much. I love being at the game. The crowd, the atmosphere, the game itself. But there is a point where the experience becomes a net negative. Sadly, I’m getting there.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Foul Language Ejections

Justin UptonThere was an incident in the baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and my beloved St. Louis Cardinals last night that got me thinking. A player for the Braves, Justin Upton, was ejected, supposedly for arguing. Upton says he was merely mad at himself for grounding out and cursed.

This sort of incident happened earlier in the season to Yadier Molina when he was called out on a close play at first base and slammed his helmet into the ground. He was frustrated that he didn’t run harder out of the batter’s box, he is a catcher and nursing sore knees, but the umpire saw it differently and ejected Molina.

When I sat down to write this blog post I was going to call out overly sensitive officials for ejecting players and altering the course of the game unnecessarily. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the rules I played under as a young boy. I began to realize there is a better solution. Stop throwing your equipment, cursing, and being disrespectful in general.

When I played sports as a kid, if you abused a piece of equipment the coach would put you on the bench. If you said anything argumentative to an official you’d be ejected from the game. Those days are sadly over.

I’m not saying that official don’t make mistakes and I’m certainly on record saying that I think some outright cheat. I’m not saying that those who make mistakes, those who cheat, those who lie, shouldn’t be called out. I’m just saying let’s try to do it with some decency.

I am saying it would be great if players acted like gentlemen and ladies. This screaming and yelling at every perceived slight, this flopping to gain an advantage, this boorish behavior is something that pervades sports, media, comment sections, essentially society itself.

This rudeness is everywhere, not just sports, and certainly characterizes  political debate. Everyone thinks its okay to call someone they don’t like an “idiot!” A “moron!” A “Repukelican!” A “Libtard!” This lack of decency, of simple manners, hurts cooperation, hurts society, hurts our (yes, our) nation.

We have become a rude, nasty lot. We will say horrible things about other people and words hurt. When our actions show a complete disregard for civility, for kindness, for tolerance, then we simply encourage the worst sort of people to take things even further. When the best of us, the role-models, cannot restrain ourselves the worst are emboldened.

Back to the topic at hand, a ballplayer thrown out for cursing at himself. It wouldn’t have happened if all baseball players were ejected at the first curse word, at the first disrespectful action towards an umpire. I’m not just haranguing ball players here. Fire the umpire that shows disrespect to a player.

I don’t think what I’m suggesting will happen because of money. If John McEnroe yells something at an umpire during the finals of Wimbledon and the match is declared over that will cost people a lot of money. If Tiger Woods curses after a bad shot and is escorted from the course that will cost sponsors a lot of money.

That being said, if there are strictly enforced rules, the athletes and  officials will eventually learn to follow them. It might be a little painful at the start but I think we’d all be better off.

And before you like this post and tell me how right I am, examine your own life, your own actions. You’re a role-model for someone out there. Act like it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a very good read)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt