Last Tuesday's Pulse section of the Journal-World asked a group of young people "What social problems do you see occurring at school?"
Interestingly, the issue of civility kept cropping up in the responses of eight students. Decency, courtesy, thoughtfulness, politeness, caring, consideration for the feelings of others.
Replied one high school junior: "People being mean to people that don't deserve being mistreated, like leaving people out and not having someone to sit with at lunch."
"Probably bullying," answered a sophomore. "People who think they are better than others are mean."
Then came the kicker from a junior: "Just plain rudeness."
What the youngsters were talking about are the same tendencies that seem to be growing at alarming rates in our society in general. It doesn't cost a cent to be civil and decent and takes so very little of anyone's time. And it can make one feel good to brighten someone else's day.
Common courtesy and decency toward others do not demand vast forays into the ways and means of our social fabric. Just a simple smile, a gesture of respect, maybe holding the door for someone. How about finding a few kind words for someone, whether you know the person or not? Why not make "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome" a common occurrence in daily verbal trafficking?
Let's get back to the issue of "just plain rudeness," which sours so many interactions with other human beings. Bullying? That's been going on for eons, but it is getting worse among our young people, who then get set in bad habits that weaken their chances to become truly civil adults.
People who do no harm to anyone and who would love to have somebody be decent to them often suffer because they are "different" or don't happen to speak, look or dress the way "the rest of us" do. Are we civilized or not?
C'mon, folks! When kids in our schools recognize what makes the grinding wheels of society screech and squeak so harmfully and can summarize the situation as well as the J-W Pulse group did, why can't the adults step up and try, along with the kids, to change things for the better?
Civility? It's become in increasingly short supply in our dealings with each other, at all levels. It's also something that could cure many of our social ills if we began to boost its supply and exercise it more regularly.
Just think how things could change if each of us practiced that philosophy just two or three more times a day. Such an approach would surely be superior to the "just plain rudeness" that our young people sense, sadly, among us.