“Good men shall then be manifested;
their principles, their practices …
They who are now accused of hypocrisy
and obstinacy, and pride and peevishness,
because they could not swim with the stream,
nor run with others to the same excess of riot,
will then be manifested
to be men of integrity and humility,
and to have declined
the profane course of others,
not out of foolish preciseness …
but out of conscience …”
[ John Owen ]
I was asked, last year, if my lament
about the 21st century was not just
‘looking back’ with ‘rose-tinted glasses’.
Well now, it is neither my fantasy
– nor wistful thinking – to observe that,
when I was growing up,
men tipped their hats when passing a lady;
that women were not ashamed to dress
– and conduct themselves … like ladies;
or that children addressed adults as
“Sir”, or “Ma’am”, “Mr”, “Mrs”, or “Miss”.
And you would never – ever –
hear filthy obscenities spoken in public:
Not, that is, by any adult who wanted
to be regarded as mature, or responsible,
Nor would shop owners, restaurant managers,
teachers, or the parents of any child
ever have heard it, and said nothing
to the creature spewing the verbal filth.
A public conscience Still Existed in human society
… back then.
I remember arriving in Canada some years ago,
being utterly stunned to have gone into a restaurant
and see ‘men’ (?) sitting at tables
– in the company of their wives –
wearing baseball caps on their head.
Even during my brief stay in Mrs Thatcher’s military,
the greatest declaration of wholesale, class-less Ignorance
and contempt for other people,
was for a man to wear a hat at a table:
It never happened !!! And yet, here I was
surrounded by it, in a restaurant in British Columbia,
The complete and utter lack of basic good manners.
And no one cares.
I remember a world in which the generality of people
could spell, write … and converse in sentences;
they had the humility to learn;
and the manners to say ‘thank you’ to someone
for correcting their errors or ignorance.
It has nothing to do with ‘rose-tinted glasses’
to physically HEAR the filthy profanity
in peoples’ “conversation”,
to physically SEE men dressed like slobs,
and women doing all they can to become ‘men’;
or to REALISE that the term “Grammer Nazi”
means that people in the 21st century,
are not only APPALLINGLY ignorant …
… but are actually OFFENDED and ABUSIVE
whenever someone offers to help them
to learn something that they do not know.
There is now an all-too-obvious readiness in people
to presume that IF someone does NOT
follow the multitude in “partying”, hedonism,
greed, techno-toys, and vanity,
they are, therefore, ‘strange’ … or, ‘weird’.
The bulk of modern humanity want nothing whatsoever
to do with those who are quiet, peaceful, and articulate.
Such folk make them … uncomfortable.
I certainly do not enjoy having no one
with whom I could go out for a frothy coffee
or cup of tea. But personal experience has taught me that,
when you are a man
who does not talk about what is displayed on a TV set;
who does not swill beer;
who has no interest in sitting in front of a television
to watch grown men chasing a ball around a field;
and who does not engage in the vanity of owning things –
modern men just do not want to know you.
They certainly do not want your company because
– without liquor, toys, or pathetic macho posturing,
there is not a great deal about which they could talk.
I learned more than forty years ago that,
when you will not leap on board
every passing media-instigated bandwagon;
when you believe that, if a man’s words
are no better than silence,
it would be better for him to be silent;
or when your conscience extends higher than
career, money, or a flag on a pole –
then No One – men or women –
wants to be around you.
It is not that a moral man does not WANT to know people:
it is that PEOPLE do not want to know the moral man.
Sometimes, people are alone … because they are given
no other choice.
That certainly has been the situation in my life.
Anyone, now, who is peaceful, polite, introspective,
or thoughtful is someone to be regarded with distaste
or ( ominously ! ) suspicion.
For multitudes, to be an aggressive, loud-mouthed,
party-boy who swills liquor; destroys nature with a ‘dirt bike’ or ‘ATV’;
copulates like a rodent in a sewer; and wastes hours
watching grown men chase a ball around a field,
is to be … “A Man”.
After all, the ‘liberated’, ‘independent’, “Modern Woman”
is one who imitates the modern “Man”.
I chose to be alone because the general tenor
of modern humanity is obnoxious to my ears, eyes,
It would be utter misery, for me, to find myself in a “party”
or a “club” atmosphere where crowds of people
throng in a room filled with blaring noise
being hammered from loudspeakers –
all assembled for the common purpose of swilling liquor
and abandoning all semblance of self restraint.
To be in a place like that would be torment, for me.
People cannot have ‘a good time’ – without noise.
One cannot even go to a supermarket, bank, or dentist’s office
without being subjected to noise from speakers,
or a wall-mounted television set.
Peace and quiet – silence that would allow the ability
to think, consider, question and reason,
have been removed from modern society.
Something has to fill the void of the modern mind.
The Human Race has been noticeably re-engineered
over the last 35 years in particular.
I remember, in Donaghadee harbour as a boy,
hearing one of two fishermen who had been reeling nets
onto their boat … curse:
and then immediately, stop his conversation,
climb the stone steps up to the jetty,
walk over to a woman who was sitting at a bench
by the lighthouse, remove his cap …
and apologise for his language.
That would have been about 1969.
Now then – with a working conscience –
you tell me, (seriously now) that anyone like me
who wants nothing to do with the crude, mindless,
vicious, modern ‘society’ of the 21st century,
is … “weird” or “needs help”.
I would suggest that it is NOT those who are
sickened out of an “old fashioned” … conscientious …
sense of courtesy and consideration
which “need the help”.
Rather, it is those multitudes, which find the utter
Absence of common decency to be ‘normal’ …
who need the help.
One of the most disgusting mantras
to come out of the early 1990’s,
is the declaration that “Suicide is the
ultimate act of selfishness”.
But I believe that to voice such a statement
as that, is ‘the Ultimate Act of Selfishness’.
To declare that someone who is so distraught
that they feel that they just can not go on
for one more day,
and simply want the mental and emotional torment
of their situation in life to end —
To maintain that a person in such anguish
is … “selfish” …
is – for me, The Ultimate Act of Selfishness.
It shows just how callous, and cruel,
and vicious, modern humanity has become.
The complete absence of what used to be
known as … Empathy.
Just the very real memory of how adults, generally,
USED to behave.
And daily distress from the harsh reality of seeing
how human beings behave now.