You don't know what you are missing, if you've never had it to begin with.
- Some mexican guy outside a gas station in Shakopee, Mn.
On Wednesday, this past week, I signed up for one of those month to month memberships at a little golf course near my home. It was sunny on Wednesday but still windy and cool as it has been here most of this spring. I had to rent a cart because I just don't trust these old knees to hold out anymore.
I was striking the ball pretty well and moving right along when I ran into three people pulling hand carts somewhere midway down the 5th hole. These three golfers were terrible and they were slow. Being a terrible golfer is perfectly acceptable. I have nothing against terrible golfers because at some time in every golfer's life- we are all terrible. So I get that. But being terrible today is far different than being terrible 40 years ago.
You see 40 years ago, I too was a terrible golfer. I was a young man back then and even though I couldn't strike the ball well or accurately most of the time, I had been taught to let faster players play through. Letting other people play through was an acknowledgement that you were aware that somebody else was inhabiting the planet also- people other than yourself.
This phenomenon, or idea, that you should be concerned about people other than yourself was not uncommon.
Forty years ago, we were taught etiquette and if you didn't exercise good etiquette towards the players in front or behind you, often times you were reported. Sometimes, you were talked to. Sometimes, you were even kicked off the course for awhile. No appeals, no due process. Grow up and behave, or go play somewhere else. The golf course management did not give two shits about your green fees.
The point being, society forced you to behave like a courteous adult. Like it or not, this caused the self absorbed to be aware of and in most instances- be courteous to other people. You were taught to respect others absent stupid cliches' about earning respect. You just did it.
Teaching etiquette and courteous behavior towards other people, and this is certainly my opinion, was not unlike teaching civics to our children. In civics class you were taught how to be a responsible, respectful, citizen. You were taught morality and when life presented the opportunity to do the right thing you were adequately armed.
My personal belief is that you certainly have to teach courtesy, etiquette, and civics. Absent that, you have a bunch of morons running around trampling the rights of others, behaving like cavemen, and voting for morons who wouldn't know the meaning of "public service" if it kicked them in the balls.
There is another school of thought. It is the one where all instruction gets abandoned and everything is learned, allegedly, through experience. From wiki: Sudbury schools contend that values, social justice and democracy included, must be learned through experience as Aristotle said: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." They adduce that for this purpose schools must encourage ethical behavior and personal responsibility. In order to achieve these goals schools must allow students the three great freedoms—freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom to bear the results of action—that constitute personal responsibility.
The problem is obvious. Younger people are no longer taught a full agenda of courtesy, etiquette, and civics. These things are not learned from "experience" because there are no longer any consequences for being self absorbed. In fact, it is quite common for me to see young people screwing around on their cell phones completely absorbed in something else. This absent mindedness and self centered-ness is disrespectful at the very least and in the case of texting while driving- might actually get someone else killed. So in the above referenced model, society must suffer until such point in time, that the self absorbed grow a mature brain that acknowledges the rights of others.
I don't know about you- but I think making society wait while millions of self absorbed morons learn valuable lessons- is completely irresponsible. In fact, that's why we used to teach responsible behavior to begin with.
Here's a novel idea. We shouldn't need laws that tell us not to text and drive. Educating people in schools and at home about being good people and practicing good citizenship- should have taken care of the problem long before we had to call on our legislative morons.
Learning by doing is a great concept Aristotle...except that people don't always learn. And by the time you are chewing their ass for not letting you play through on the 8th hole- they are too busy defending themselves to learn anything. All they learn, they think, is that the old guy in the golf cart is an asshole.
I used to say and you are certainly free to steal this, "For everything you know, there was a time when you didn't know it." It certainly applies to today's self centered culture. Was our society always this bad? No, it wasn't. Kids actually welcomed the idea of learning how to behave so that they could have the privileges of playing golf and driving. As adults, they passed the lesson on and you can be sure that some still do.
After I played through the threesome of slow death and thanked them for finally allowing me to do so, I realized that they simply didn't know any better. You don't really know what courtesy, etiquette, and civics are unless somebody takes the time and effort to teach you. You don't even know you are being dis-courteous or if you do- you don't know enough to care. Up until such point, that some old man sticks a four iron up your ass and gets carted off in a squad car.
Fortunately, for the threesome of slow death, I know all of this. I was taught early. I have the perspective of seeing what happens when others are not given the same lessons that I had. Oddly, I feel kind of lucky and grateful. I also feel kind of sorry for them and our culture in general, but that's a perspective of mine that extends well beyond the confines of any golf course.
Have a great week!