For Myself, Alice, and Anyone Else Who Believes in Mutual RespectDecorum.
I’m a big believer in it. I believe that you should treat others the way you would want to be treated. Decorum may sound stodgy, something employed in “polite society,” a noun evoking images of gray-haired old ladies pursing their lips, peering over their bifocals, and tsking at the crass, the unconventional, the inappropriate -- but it is so much more. Decorum is and should be something we all use every day, not just when we feel like it, when we are in an especially “giving” mood, when the world seems rosy and our fellow man steps up to the plate for once and makes us proud to be a part of the human race. Allowing dignity to others, when deserved, is, in my opinion, an action requiring little effort; and if someone has difficulty enabling their decorum switch, there is nobody but themselves to blame if they feel they are misunderstood, ignored, disrespected. As the oft repeated saying goes. you must give respect in order to receive respect. And many times, those who have difficulty turning on that switch are blind to the decorum shown to them, are unable to experience true respect -- unable to receive it gracefully -- because it is a wholly unfamiliar concept, be it from a lifetime of hardships, and their lack of decorum is a protective measure, or they are just downright selfish, cruel misanthropists.
I bring up this subject because I am continually aghast at the lack of decorum shown not only by strangers I’ve come in contact with -- which, by the way, can easily be forgotten; turn the other cheek and all that -- but by friends and acquaintances. Not so easy to turn that damn cheek when personal relationships are involved. It’s near impossible for those of us who hold decorum in high esteem to confront someone who has hurt us with their lack thereof. It pains us to even imagine making another soul feel shamed, bad about his/herself in any way, shape or form. If you feel as I do, even in the slightest, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it is a real, physical ache, a whole-body tremor of mixed feelings involving embarrassment, sympathy, anger, sadness, self-doubt, bewilderment…I hope you get my drift here. I’m no wimp when it comes to standing up for myself or confronting injustice, but regarding even the gentlest of finger-wagging directed at the thoughtless among us, I become squeamish. I tend to slough off negative or insulting comments by those I care about way too often. Why? Decorum, that’s why. I’m chock full of decorum, ask anybody who knows me.
I have many faults, many eccentricities and shortcomings, but my high level of decorum is one thing I love about myself. I can be terribly blunt if asked for my opinion, but the bluntness is coated with truth, respect, caring -- I reserve less decorous behavior for situations in which my honest, respectful statements are ignored or ridiculed. Honesty is key, to my heart, to societal relations. One can be blunt, should be blunt, and not beat around the bush of obfuscation for the sake of saving face. In the long run, that only causes misunderstandings and resentment -- in both parties. Just look at what the absence of decorum coupled with untruths has done to America in only five short years.
I do not tolerate inequity, harmful actions or out and out rude behavior, and have no problem reprimanding the offender. It is the subtle jabs that make me want to run and hide, the backhanded compliments, the bold disregard for others’ feelings swaddled in faux-honesty, contempt disguised as strength, the unkind commentary masked as Truth, when in reality is nothing short of base behavior by egotistical, jealous, ignorant people whose goal is to flay another’s dignity to shreds in order to hoist themselves to a superior position.
That subtlety, like a garter snake in the grass, is hard to pinpoint, thus hard to root out and kill by confrontation. The colors are muted together, the snake stealthy, quick, and if one tries to catch the snake, the subtle contemptuous remarks, one finds that it easily becomes lost if it isn't carefully tracked. But you know it’s there just the same, because you saw it, felt it, to the center of your soul. Confronting the offender with that subtle, sneaky snake usually only winds up with you appearing the accusatory fool. Where is the proof? Where is the tangible evidence? You know it’s there, the offender certainly knows it’s there, but if it’s hiding in the grass, invisible to the naked eye, well then, it doesn’t really exist, despite the bites on your ankles. So you take the bites. I take the bites, for the sake of decorum.
Word to the indecorous: I've got a few snakes of my own, and if provoked, they can be extremely nasty indeed. You don't want me to open that den, because I guarantee they will eat you alive. With ferocious decorum, of course.