Monday, December 31, 2012


I’m not big on New Years resolutions, finding them equal parts waste of time and exercise in futility. They seldom last longer than the breath it takes to utter them. I gave up making them shortly after Grover Cleveland left the White House.

But if I were to make one, I think it would be to stop coming across, in these blogs, as such a joyless grump. When Thumper’s mom, in Bambi, advises her son: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all,” she obviously did not have me in mind. I can say nice things, and I hope and feel that I often do. But I do not suffer fools—or bigotry or stupidity or gratuitous disrespect—gladly. And, Lordy, there is so much wrong in the world—and I’m not talking just about wars and greed and poverty and natural disasters—over which we have no real individual control. Life ain’t easy under the best of conditions. But what bothers me is that there are any number of things over which we, as individual human beings, DO have some control but far too often simply either ignore or refuse to attempt to correct.

If everyone in the world resolved, for example, to pay more than lip service to the concept of common courtesy, can you imagine the impact it could have? Basic civility has, sadly, largely gone the way of the dodo and the wooly mammoth, and common decency seems to be following not far behind. I expect the whole world to take the high road above the rising ocean of rudeness and thoughtlessness and be considerate of other people is an impossible dream. I can’t expect the whole world to do it, but I can do it. Who knows, it might be catching.

Would it kill me to smile more at people I don’t know? To say “hello” to the people with whom I share an elevator? To hold the door open for someone, or stand back and let someone else board the bus first? To say “thank you” a bit more? To pick up a Styrofoam cup or soda can some inconsiderate idiot has merely tossed on the ground…often within feet of a trash receptacle?

Courtesy should not only be practiced, it should in certain conditions be demanded. If a clerk in a store is rude, I do not hesitate to ask to speak to the manager. If the food I order in a restaurant is cold, or is not what I ordered or prepared the way I ordered it, I send it back. Politely, I hope, but I send it back. When is the last time you did that?

We are becoming a nation…a world…of people who have come to almost expect rudeness and incompetence as our due. It is not our due. We deserve better and we have every right to expect it and to demand it when we don’t get it. But we don’t. We don’t want to make waves, to call attention to ourselves, to “get anyone in trouble.” (There’s a quaint Latin term I use for this type of spurious but all-too common logic: “Bullshit”!)

One of the immutable laws of nature is: “Those who behave like doormats will be treated as such.”

As you have undoubtedly noticed, I once again started off down one path and find myself on another. We were talking about resolutions, right?

I know: I’ll make a resolution to be more focused. Yep. That’ll do it.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

No comments: