Aug 23 2008

Put your own house in order

Category: Generalfootlight @ 11:29

Why is it that people are generally so selfish? Always me, me, me! Wanting to be first in the line for everything; last if it’s something nasty, like an injection. Looking for the easy buck, the least work for the most gain. Just – selfish. But selfishness has many guises, not just emotional ones.

Take the person who drives down the road with his/her (although usually men) car hi-fi at full pelt, all windows open. Better yet, no windows open and still loud enough to deafen the populace in the next town. My only consolation is that he or she will be deaf long before I am. It is highly anti-social to have your car radio/stereo blaring out, but it is very hard to regulate. Try telling one of these yobs they are disturbing the entire county and the most likely response would be a stream of good old Anglo-Saxon invective. If you are really unlucky, you might get a physical response, but only if you are stupid enough to stand too close.

Then there’s the noisy neighbours. I doubt there is one person in the country who hasn’t been affected by this problem at least once. Parties that regularly go on until the wee small hours with excruciatingly loud music and people shouting at the tops of their voices to be heard over it. One of our neighbours last summer even moved the hi-fi into the garden – why!?

Intrusive music, like an MP3 player, has been dealt with on public transport in the UK and it is a recognised offence, but where does this lack of courtesy come from? Why are people so selfish and thoughtless?

I blame the parents (or whoever brings them up). No, really – I do! I am one who had a very difficult child who was damned hard work, so I speak from a position of knowledge. It doesn’t matter how much legislation the government puts in place, how many prosecutions there are over noise pollution, how many times people complain to the local Environmental Health Department. The vast number of these people have not had any guidance on how to behave in society. There is a current advertisment in the media pointing out that small children will copy grown-ups into bad habits, in this case road sense. They will also copy good habits. If a child learns at his parents’ knee that it is bad to make so much noise that you disturb other people, and this is constantly reinforced as said child grows, then he probably won’t do it! If he is reprimanded if he makes faces, or hits, or snatches, or shouts abuse, then he probably won’t do it as an adult. Of course children have to do some of their own growing and make their own mistakes and of course some will grow up unpleasant in spite of all the attempts by their parents to produce a well-balanced adult but, if they have no positive role model in the first place, they don’t stand a chance.

And don’t blame the schools! They are in loco parentis – ‘in the place of the parent’ – but they don’t stand a chance either if the groundwork hasn’t been done.

Bringing up kids is bloody hard work. They aren’t there to finish the tally – house, car, kids – nor are they there to cement a failing relationship. If you have kids it should be because you want them and it is then your duty, to your children and to society, to show them how to be good people. I don’t mean in the religious sense – that sometimes produces the worst offenders – but just good, old-fashioned common decency.

So it isn’t just the products of this lack of guidance who are selfish, it’s the place they come from – the parents and, for ‘parents’ read also ‘home’. Many children are effectively brought up by grandparents, childminders, friends. It can’t be helped in an age when it is almost impossible for a mother or father not to have to work to support the family. But that doesn’t change anything. A good start is a good start and it would make a world-wide difference if more people thought about that instead of their own comfort.

I repeat – bringing up kids is bloody hard work! When you complain about the noisy driver or the gang of teenagers you are afraid to walk past, check for a moment whether one of them couldn’t be yours. If not, pat yourself on the back. If they could ….

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