Requiem for Civility

misbehaving-child-750x500Ding Ding Ding! Survey says – America might have a civility deficit. Duh. It appears rudeness, and incivility have become as contagious as the annoying common cold  — and just as hard to cure. Aggressive language, insults, demeaning words flow like waterfalls from mouths of people from political leadership to the neighbor down the road. What could go wrong?!

We live in a hurry up world. From road rage on the morning commute to high decibel restaurant cell phone conversations, behaving badly has become a hallmark of a ‘new’ world. Self-absorbed communication and demands for instant gratification strain common courtesies to the breaking point. They say a fish rots from the head and this political climate brought a nasty stench. The rhetoric of this past election had no small part in the ever-growing, no-holds barred incivility. But, to be truthful, we all have a part in what has grown with abandon. And, as a Senator, who recently stated that we have ‘normalized’ bad behavior, said, “Enough!”.

Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength. Eric Hoffer

How did we get here? Do we have heftier passions than our ancestors? I doubt it. (Does Henry the VIII or the Inquisition ring a bell?) 2,000 years before us, there was still a heck of a lot of bad behavior. Is there more political division now? Monarchy or democracy, there have always been political divides but social media and TV ‘s in-your-face communication reaches audiences of previously unimagined proportions. Fake news, alternative facts, and blatant untruths roll by without impunity and nonchalant arrogance that do little to make us proud. Continue reading

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Under the Big Top

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I never joined the circus. Actually, I’ve never even been much of a fan. Too many rings to watch at once. Too many nail biting high wire acts. Too many animals tethered and tamed instead of wild and free. And the clowns, yikes, the clowns. Maybe I was just a weird kid, but the circus was never a big ‘must see’.

Still, I must say I felt a teeny bit sad when the 146 year old Barnum and Bailey Circus recently pulled up stakes for good. But, hey, even the biggest show on earth would have a hard time competing with the red, white and blue Big Top of — politics.

If, like me, watching more than one thing at a time makes you dizzy, refer to your program and buckle up. There’s enough action under the Big Top these days to make your head spin. Precarious high wire acts. Slights of hand. Tricks that can keep you stranded in the air with no safety net. From acrobats to animal trainers, no one seems to like each other very much but every one is worth watching.

High flying tricks emerge energetically from every spotlit ring. Some are intriguing; others could turn catastrophic in a heartbeat. All the balls are in the air and where they land no one knows – yet. We watch every act with interest or fear, approval or upset. Performers go through flaming hoops or emerge from clown cars. And we’re left to wonder what (or who) is going to bounce off the trampoline. Welcome to life under the Big Top. Continue reading

Shall We Dance?

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I’m pretty sure when I was born, I was rockin’ to the beat in the delivery room. A typical tutu-craving little kid, I started ballet at 4 years old, and made toe shoe status by 10. Today I might be pirouette-challenged but the need to move it, move it is still instinctive, a fact that always (and gleefully) embarrassed my once-upon-a-time teenage kids.

Though I may now groove a little differently, one dance rule will always be carved in stone. When you trip the light fantastic – don’t step on anyone’s toes. From the nervous 13 year-old partners of my youth to men keeping up with my spontaneous footwork, I’ve always tried not to plant my size 7 ½’s on theirs. It’s just well, awkward.

Speaking of awkward, there’s no place more critical for well-placed steps than today’s political landscape. Walking into that minefield, it’s a good idea to tread carefully. The more I read Facebook posts or talk with friends and family, I realize stepping carefully is more than just a decent social tip. No matter how correct your dance moves are, smashing someone’s toe in the process is never the best idea.

Shot through with quicksand and sudden storms, today’s politics have spawned very contentious differences in thought, belief, need and fear. You have to be really quick on your feet to avoid falling into a sink hole. Skillful choreography can help circumvent  a spiraling tornado of words though it might not change the deeper divide. The growing chasm will take real thought to maneuver. I’m not talking about having rational,honest answers, standing up for rights, and even fighting for them. You go! I’m talking about remembering what we valued, cherished before we stepped onto this new dance floor, which can be a really slippery place. Continue reading

Ready or not . . .

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMzAAAAJDZmNGEwNDkwLTA0ZTYtNGFhZC1hNmI0LTc5MWM3Y2Q4MDcyOQ. . . . . . . you’re on your own.

Wait, what?  I really didn’t order that. Star-spangled freedom wasn’t on my wish list. Been there, done that. I know independence is a good thing– both for people and countries. Being able to stand on your own is an asset in every situation, whether you choose to walk solo or not. Brexit may be one of those times when that ability may be tested.

When I met my husband, I walked into coupleness with eyes wide open – and then some. Having been married before, I knew the difference between being controlled and being intimately connected. Having a base, feeling ultimately at home in a relationship, that’s a cool thing and what we strive for, right? Unfortunately, when my almost-fairytale ended a few months ago, there was no ‘happily ever after’ – at least none that my emotional binoculars can see right now.

My husband’s sudden death set me free into a life, an independence I hadn’t planned on or wished for. Unlike the independence we celebrate today, that kind of freedom doesn’t invite the Grucci brother’s famed fireworks. Nothing about being cut loose in a sink or swim ocean of grief calls for flag waving or bbqs. (I’ve never been a hot dog and beer girl anyway) While I celebrate the heck out of our United States today, sometimes freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if it’s the last thing you were looking for instead of what you were fighting for. Continue reading