More Goodwill– Less Assholery


This is what a picture of singing kids looks like when no one is standing in front of you blocking your view.

know it’s the Holiday Season and everyone is trying to be cheery and happy and all that.

And I hate to be the Grinchy McGrincherson who slinks in to jam your holiday spirit up your chimbley and so forth but there’s something I gotta get off my chest here.

It could just be garden variety holiday stress talking, but I really think I witnessed the decline of civilization first-hand just the other night.

Here’s what happened.

Two weeks ago my daughter’s school had their annual holiday concert.  You know the drill:  The kids learn a bunch of multi-cultural non-exclusionary songs, they get up on stage and sing ‘em, everyone claps, milk and cookies after and you’re home by 7, relatively unscathed.

Only, at this particular event, two things stuck out to me and not in a good way.

First– (and this is in an auditorium FULL of people all trying to see their kid) Just before the show starts and the lights go down some yahoo of a Dad walks down the middle isle to about row 5 and sets up a giant TRIPOD, attaches his camera to it, and then stands there behind his set up filming the entire performance and making an endless series of micro-adjustments along the way.  Tripod higher.  Tripod lower.  Move it 8 inches to the right.  Now 8 inches to the left.  Etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Apparently OBLIVIOUS to the fact that no one behind him, like ENTIRE ROWS OF PEOPLE, could see  a damn thing.

Second– There was a kid sitting a few seats away from me who was maybe 10–11 years old.  He spent the entire performance playing video games on his Mom’s cell phone (WITH her encouragement and blessing it would seem) because, you know, the light and the noise wasn’t AT ALL distracting to everyone sitting around him.

And that’s when it hit me: here I am at my daughter’s elementary school Holiday Concert witnessing the decline of western civilization. And here’s what I mean by that.

We, as a people, have become so isolated from each other, so self involved and self important, that we’ve lost ALLsense, not just of human decency but of basic human manners.

Look, I’m a parent.  I get it.  Nothing is more important to me than my kids.  And that’s as it should be.

But I also like to think I’m insightful enough to realize that they’re MY kids and YOU probably don’t feel as strongly about them as I do.  And that’s also as it should be.

So, even though it might be really important to ME to snap a quick picture of my daughter’s singing Jingle Bells or whatever it doesn’t mean I have the right to stand in the middle of the aisle and block everyone else’s view for 90 minutes, does it?

And look, I get that your 11 year old son might not be all that excited about watching his sister’s holiday concert but don’t you think letting him play games on a smart phone the whole time sends kind of the wrong message?

Like, it’s important for us to be here but not important enough for us to pay attention or at least sit quietly so we don’t distract everyone sitting around us?

This Nation was built on the idea of self-determination but when exactly did self-determination become just plain selfish?

They’re not actually the same thing.  Or at least they’re not supposed to be.

When did we decide that what I want, what my kids want, what my spouse wants is more important than what You or YOUR kids or YOUR spouse wants?

And if you think I’m just ranting to rant or that none of this really matters take a look at the gridlock in Washington.

Look at our Congress.  By just about ANY measuring stick imaginable, the most divided, most selfish and LEAST effective Congress in our Nation’s history and tell me that this sort of behavior, this lack of civility, this lack of empathy and understanding, this mistaken notion that what I want must ALWAYS supersede what YOU want, doesn’t have bigger implications.

So, look, for the rest of the Holiday season how about we agree to try these few simple things whenever possible:

Let someone merge into traffic in front of you.

Hold the door open for the person coming in behind you.

Say please and thank you to the person who gets your coffee in the morning.

Don’t sit in the middle of a parking lot lane for 15 minutes blocking everyone behind you while you wait for a spot to open up.

Make your kids put down the smart phone and the X-box and get them to interact with other human beings, even if they hate you for it.

And if you’re at a holiday pageant and you want to snap a few quick pictures of your kid, great, go ahead.  But how about just take a few and then sit down so that other people can also take a few of their kid.

See how easy that is?

It really is that simple.  There you have it.

Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men, and Fa La La La La, La La De Friggin’ Da.


  • Karen Fish wrote:

    Oh how much I love this!

  • I’m absolutely with you on this. People are totally oblivious to the fact that the world around them is populated with actual human beings who have the same rights as they have and deserve consideration.

  • Seriously, Mike, I noticed this a few years ago on the highway. People don’t know how to merge. They expect you to slow down to 45 from 70 just to let them get in ahead of you. If you don’t let them in ahead of you, they pass you at 90, then slow down to 45 once they are in front. I call it lead dog syndrome, or “Anywhere but behind you.” Parents at school function, such a pain. You could ask if the guy in the middle of the aisle is sending everyone home with a copy. Can’t tell you how many pageants and programs I can’t even get to the front to snap one photo. Truly discourteous.

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