I don't have many pet peeves, but one that can still fire me up is our national epidemic of bad manners.
Cell phones go off in church; loud conversations interrupt movies and plays; foul language is rampant; trash is thrown on the side of the street; people fail to show for appointments; cars go through quiet neighborhoods with music blaring; teenagers spit on sidewalks; men fail to hold doors for women; road rage is on the upswing; people we expect to be responsible, fail to follow through.
Here's my question. Have you ever let your child squirm out of a commitment because something else "better" came along . . . or do we expect them to follow through when they give their word? Have you ever cursed at another driver when your child was listening . . . or do we model politeness and temperance? Do you drop trash on the sidewalk . . . or is your family the one to pick it up? Have you ever talked disrespectfully about your child's teacher . . . or do we teach respect and demonstrate good manners?
I don't believe that we are as aware as we could be, as to how much the freedom and liberty we cherish, depends on basic civility. The law merely provides a framework within which the Spirit of civilized society has the opportunity to flourish. Our rights as Americans cease to have meaning once enough of us fail to honor our parallel responsibilities.
You can enjoy independence through civility
Fact is, one of the greatest gifts we, as parents, can give America, is a generation of young people who respect, not only our personal freedom, but the rights of others to enjoy theirs. Civility is at the core of what it means to enjoy the fruits of 226 years of Independence. I told my children once, when they wanted to skip a community cleanup commitment that had lost its appeal.
"If Washington was willing to cross the Delaware in that kind of weather, the least you can do is to follow through on your word and pick up a little trash in the church parking lot."
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