When I was a kid, we grew up with rules. There were rules for all, rules for grown-ups, and rules for kids. If we didn’t follow them, we were in deep trouble not only with our parents, but also with neighbors or anyone who saw us.
That was in Switzerland, four or five decades ago.
Here in Idaho, in 2015, it often seems that no one knows anymore even the most common and elementary rules, or if they do, they don’t care.
Take for example a crowded sidewalk or stairway. What do you do to avoid collisions? Simple: you stick to the rule that says you walk on your right side. That’s what I’ve learned and always do. However, here and now, that rule doesn’t do me any good. People have either never heard of it, or they don’t know which side is the right side. Often, I get so badly caught in a human counter-current that the only thing I can do is to stand completely still. I can see on some of the faces how people would rather step on than around me, but with my almost six feet of height that would be an impossible task. Thus, the human wave opens in front of me and closes once it passed me.
There are more such behaviors that keep surprising me:
People used to hold the door for others; nowadays, more often than not they let it slam in your face.
Kids used to have some respect for grown-ups and especially the elderly; I’m seeing more and more the contrary.
Forks used to be on the left side of a plate, knife and spoon on the right side; except in high-priced restaurants, no one seems to remember that (but what the heck: most people don’t know how to use knife and fork properly and fast food is eaten without silverware).
We didn’t litter. Littering was the biggest public no-no I can remember. What I see now is that people don’t care. They drop their trash wherever it happens.
Similarly, we used to pick up after our dogs, especially when they did business on someone’s lawn or near a church. More and more I feel as if I’m the only one who picks up after my dog. Lawns all around the neighborhood, and even sidewalks, are dotted with turds of all sizes.
Driving…. don’t even get me started about traffic rules and how many people apparently have not the slightest idea of how to share the road!
Considering the state of things, I wonder if this “evolution” is strictly American. I also wonder why parents don’t teach their kids rules anymore or – apparently – forget to enforce them. Is this, too, due to the general feeling that parents should never say a tough word while parenting and kids will know instinctively how to behave in society?
Let me laugh!
I realize that people get quite upset about rules, but the simple things I’ve mentioned above truly make life in the community of others easier. So why not adhere to them?