I've got to get something off my chest. I have really had it with bad behavior. I mean REALLY!
This has been on my mind for some time. At first, I thought I was just being mildly cranky and expecting more than I had a right to. But now I see that it's really become a problem in our society.
Let me give you some examples. I live in a small apartment complex. There are 16 units, 8 one bedroom and 8 two bedroom. Everyone shares a bedroom wall with someone and a ceiling or a floor with someone. Everyone shares 2 washers and 2 dryers that we are asked to use between 8 AM and 8 PM. 4 of us share a front stairwell that has an exterior door that keeps out the bugs, the weather, the stray animals and the Jehovah's witness. (The exterior door doesn't lock, but it looks intimidating enough that people just don't bother us.) About a year ago, my downstairs neighbor moved out and I got a new neighbor. When I met her, I thought she'd be just fine. She's a resident at our local teaching hospital, she lived alone with occasional visits from her small son when she wasn't working a long shift. But since she managed to move in over a matter of days with very little noise, I thought she'd be great. About the same time, I got new neighbors across the hall. 2 very pretty college age girls with lots of boys helping them move in.
Would you care to guess who has been the problem neighbor? Not the girls. They are sweet, quiet, they have had a couple of parties with friends, but nothing that went on too late or too loud. They remind me of my daughter and I like them very much.
Madame Dr. is a royal pain. She slams her door whenever she goes in or out - at all hours of the day. She plays her music so loud that I can't hear my TV. She had a party the other night to watch the NBA finals - they were so obnoxious I almost went downstairs, but I was enjoying THE BIG SLEEP on Turner Classic Movies and I was in my pajamas because I wasn't feeling well. It wasn't worth a shower and getting dressed to go sneeze on her. She never takes in her mail, so it sits in the mail box getting rained on and sun bleached and blown around the courtyard. She puts her FULL trash bags in the hallway when she has a gentleman caller and then leaves them there for days. She uses the laundry whenever it's convenient for her. She has a boyfriend now and I think he's living there too...and they fight at 2:00 AM complete with more slamming doors. Yet in spite of her love of slamming doors, she can't seem to remember to close the exterior door that keeps out the bugs and the squirrels and the Jehovah's witnesses. She doesn't seem to be aware of the rest of us at all. And as she'll never need any of us for any reason that she can think of, she seems to think that her bad behavior is perfectly acceptable and within her rights.
Maybe she doesn't seem so bad to you, but how about Kate Gosselin? You know... Jon and Kate plus 8? Don't get me wrong...I think raising 8 kids is a tough job. My parents did it. (well....7 and we were different ages) But do we really think these two are GOOD parents? And why do they have a TV show? And why do people watch it?? Just so they can be pleased their life isn't such a mess? I tried to watch one episode and was so appalled at how these two "adults" talk to each other and put those sweet children in the middle of their power games - I had to turn it off.
And it doesn't even stop there...what about Bridezillas and Real Housewives and on and on with shows I don't even know about. I admit I've watched them on occasion. Even The Girls Next Door and those wacky Kardashian's. But usually the way in which these people behave toward each other, people they supposedly love and cherish, makes me so angry I have to turn away.
What about people who talk on their cell phone having intimate personal conversations on the bus or the subway or in the grocery store? What about people who can't be bothered to silence their phone (or their selves) in the movie theatre, the restaurant, the courtroom, in church? Parents so afraid of their children that they allow them to act out in a myriad of bad ways. And I could go on....
When did this kind of thing become okay? When did we stop being ashamed at this sort of behavior? Who is going to have the nerve to stand up and say - Enough. This sort of behavior is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
I've been reading a fascinating book - A FAILURE OF NERVE by Edwin Friedman. This book is changing my life. I really mean that. I'm finding that more and more of the so called problems we are faced with in today's world - job loss, bank failures, credit crisis, war, environment, broken families, broken education system, broken health care system - is due to a failure of LEADERSHIP and a failure of NERVE. We're caught in an unending loop of trying harder and spinning faster.
What we need is REAL leadership - at all levels - in our homes, our churches, synagogues, mosques, social organizations, schools, hospitals, government, work places, banks, everywhere - to stand up to the voice of fear, the voice of sabotage, the voice of caution and gridlock and resistance and say - This Behavior Is NOT ACCEPTABLE. And stick to it. We have a chance to shift this world into a new Renaissance. A chance for change as great as shifting the center of the universe from the Earth to the Sun.
It will not be easy and we may never see the fruits of our labors. But I'm starting today. I'm letting my neighbor know that her behavior is no longer acceptable to me. And she needs to start seeing the rest of us who live and work and have our being in this world.