Comedian Brian Regan once joked about letting another driver into his lane. The man in the other car was on his cell phone and without taking the phone away from his ear waved his little finger as a gesture of appreciation.
Regan lamented, “Could you have spared any less effort in acknowledging another human being’s act of kindness?”
Turns out that yes; far less. In today’s society many people have reduced telling someone “thank you” down to “ty” or even simply “t” in a text message. A tap on a touch screen is as much effort as some people believe is necessary.
Not long ago I spoke with a clerk at a bookstore. She shared she loved her job because it was far more fulfilling than her previous position. I asked her what she used to do and she shared, “I was a teacher.”
She then went onto say that she quit after a short time because a student turned in a book report typed all in text message (omg, lol, etc.). She gave the student a failing grade for the report, but her decision was overturned by her supervisor who said the student didn’t need to use proper English and so she deserved credit.
Another comedian (his name escapes me at this moment) shared his pet peeve is holding the door for another person and them walking through the door without acknowledging you. He teased that he wanted to grab them by the collar and escort them back outside and say, “Why don’t we try this again.”
Talk to most any group of people and you will hear them bemoan the loss of civility in our culture. Even YHVH in scripture tells the people to learn some appreciation.
Whether it be fast food employees angrily berated and attacked because they ran out of an item, or people in positions of authority sending lewd messages and breaking promises of fidelity, though connected electronically, people are more and more disconnected from flesh and blood individuals.
In the classic “you can’t handle the truth” courtroom scene in A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character finally loses patience with the prosecutor’s questioning. The General shares his disgust at the young lawyer’s accusations that he was too violent in carrying out his duties and yells that he knows how to do his job and rather than bring charges, “I would prefer you just say ‘thank you’!”
Though Nicholson’s character was the antagonist in the story, who hasn’t wanted to say the same thing to people that somehow have forgotten how to share a little gratitude. In the end we all say we want a little more civility, it is amazing how much difference a few words can make.