06 September, 2011

Civility Is NOT Dead

I talk about this all the time, but this weekend it was my wife who noticed it and said something about it on this trip. The mindset of the people is so different in the area where I grew up as opposed to where we now live. It is hard to explain without being offensive, but the people up here in the northern part of the state have a colder, even meaner spirit about them. I have often described it as a self-centered attitude. If you accidentally bump into someone in Wal-mart here you get grumbled at, or down right yelled at. If they bump you, they just trudge on. Down there, everyone stopped and said "excuse me" whether it was their fault or not. In Saint Louis, it was the norm to strike up a conversation with people walking through the streets or the zoo that were total strangers. Up here, you do that and people look at you like your crazy and will literally turn their head away from you. While there this weekend, we once again saw and met people who were just helpful, stopping to ask if you needed help directions. That would not happen up here. You'd stand there until cobwebs formed and birds built a nest in your hair before a stranger walked up and asked if you needed help.  It is really sad that this since of civility is lacking here. I often wonder what has brought such a change in the mindset of the folks living up in this area. I only live 3 and a half hours to the north of my home area. My wife and I had pretty well convinced ourselves that people had changed everywhere, and that Galesburg was no different than anyplace else, but this trip home showed both of us that we were wrong. I've never been so glad to be wrong in my life.

I know that some of the  people who read this will get angry at me thinking I'm uppity or something, but I assure you, I don't make these comments to be rude... I simply wish the people of the Burg would wake up to the fact that there is a mean, self-centered spirit that permeates our community that is not found everywhere else. It can be changed. People can be civil and respectful to others... even to people you don't know or even those who don't agree with you. It is not a generational difference as I was beginning to suspect, it is a geographical difference. In the heart of Saint Louis, the words, "please, thank you and excuse me" were heard repeatedly. Up here... well, I cannot even repeat the words used up here. Laugh at me if you will... I'm more convinced than ever, there is a spirit over this city that holds the Burg in the bondage of bitterness, rudeness and that of being self-centered. It is sad. People raised here think it is the norm. It is not. This spirit can and must be broken.

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