Society’s Lapse In Public Etiquette

I don’t like how comfortable we have become with public crassness.

At my bookstore the other day, a second-hand place, a young lady walks in, perhaps age 20, lightly freckled, the left side of her head shaved down to a buzz and the right side abruptly cascading her reddish blonde hair past her shoulders to be loosely braided together just at the bottom.

She asks if we have any copies of The Shack, that work of Christian-based fiction in which God, for reasons I can’t figure, is portrayed as a black woman.

We don’t have a computer database of the books we have in the store, but Christian fiction is one of the few sections ordered by the last name of the author; if we have the book, it would be easy to find.

I ask the girl if she knows the author’s name.

“Uh, sh–,” she replies, without consideration that kids might be present a mere five feet away behind the shelves (there weren’t any, thank goodness).

It probably doesn’t help society that our public officials behave unprofessionally, undignified, and seemingly without consciousness that they are supposed to represent the country. Most of them warrant no respect at all.

Our politicians are not society’s leaders, though. They represent our vices by dignifying them with laws to protect and encourage them, but they are not the ones leading us astray; they are merely providing our true leaders a route to societal corruption.

Those true leaders are celebrities. They are our creators. Our celebrities shape society to fit their backwards and depraved views, with full knowledge that they are doing just that. They want to shed promiscuous, loveless sex of its stigma, so every movie and every TV show features altogether likeable protagonists, the heroes of the stories, fornicating like it’s breakfast.

Society sees these movies and shows and assumes they are depictions of what real life is supposed to be like—that people are supposed to “test-drive” their partners before signing the title and receiving the keys of marriage, that people are supposed to swear casually, publicly, and without shame—and they reflect it in their own lives, rendering the fictional degeneracy of the screen a grotesque reality. Why shouldn’t the young black man roll down his car windows when he’s pumping the misogyny, violence, sex, and materialism that is ubiquitous in his rap music? It’s nothing society hasn’t heard in movies and then said in real life, so what’s the big deal?

Public etiquette needs a resurgence. It would be a small step, but an important one, toward healing the vulgarity of modern society.