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Cursing, shouting and grabbing: What would grandma say?

With outbursts in Congress, cursing on the tennis courts and the grabbing of the mic from a young award winner, everyone is lamenting the loss of civility in our society as more and more public figures continue to behave badly.

To quote my grandmother, I think someone has forgotten their manners.

It would be easy to go off on a rant about the disrespectful congressman, the angry athlete or the scene-stealing rapper, but these people are not acting in a cultural vacuum.

Is it any wonder that the gentleman from South Carolina felt free to shout at the President of the United States when we live in a world where talk-show hosts win ratings with smear campaigns and candidates routinely engage in character bashing?

We might express shock over a female athlete screaming the "F" word at an official, but we've long tolerated shouting and cursing in athletics. There have been numerous male tennis players who routinely berated officials. Their bad tempers became almost a joke, and their outbursts were often considered part of their strategy.

And if you think swearing is limited to the players, try attending a college football game. You'll be treated to thousand of drunks, swearing at the refs, the opponents and sometimes even their own coach and team, if they don't like the way the game is going.

As for the rapper, is it any surprise that someone from an industry that routinely disrespects women with nasty lyrics and dog chain collar costumes thinks nothing of stealing a young woman's moment in the limelight? It's kind of hard to imagine why a man would behave gallantly when many of his peers are being rewarded for being rude and obnoxious.

Maybe I am turning into my grandmother, but I'm really bothered these things. This rudeness hurts my heart.

The easy solution is to criticize the individuals, and to treat them as exceptions that should be shunned. But this is a teachable moment for all of us.

This is our chance to infuse the world with a much-needed shot of empathy. Instead of focusing on how awful the actions were, we need to remind people of what it feels like to be on the other end.

How would you feel if you were a line judge, trying to do your job in the game you loved, and a player practically accosted you, cursing at you on national television?

What would it be like to be a young woman winning one of the biggest awards of your life and have someone grab the microphone right out of your hand?

And yes, even the president deserves a little empathy. Criticizing policy is fair game, but how would like to be doing the hardest job in the world, and have one of your colleagues treat you with less respect than he does the guard who walked you in?

So what's the solution? It's simple. Take a calming breath, think before you speak and be nice.

The recent rash of rudeness is merely a symptom of a larger problem; we've forgotten that other people are human beings, too. They may get in our way in traffic, sings songs we don't like, make questionable calls on the line, or feel differently about health care than we do, but they're human beings and they're just as deserving of respect as we are.

So mind your manners people, or my grandma may have to give you a lesson.

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect."