WASHINGTON - Several recent incidents across the United States have raised the question of whether our country has lost the manners of treating each other with civility and respect.
In one incident, a Gold Star family said they are heartbroken and angry after passengers on an American Airlines flight booed them. It happened last week as the Perry family traveled to Dover Air Force Base to pick up the body of their son, Sgt. John Perry, after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
Perry's father, Stewart, said the pilot of the plane asked everyone to remain seated while the family disembarked. That is when a few passengers in first class cabin began booing.
In West Virginia, tens of thousands of fans at a football game held this past weekend booed a quarterback for overthrowing his receiver twice despite the fact he was reportedly playing in blizzard conditions and has given his all in the past few seasons.
There is also the situation in New York this weekend at the hit Broadway musical show “Hamilton” when some members of the audience booed Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he walked in to take his seat.
Crystal L. Bailey, the founder of The Etiquette Institute of Washington, talked to us about these events and she believes people have lost respect for one another. She said we need to remember we don't always need to say exactly what is on our mind and refraining is often a good idea.
“We've lost the standard that we once had,” Bailey said. “I attribute some of those to the election cycle. It was really draining to see the depths and levels that both sides went to [and] I think has caused a reaction of a lot of Americans. That is frustrating to see that our standard would drop expectations of how others are treated.”
She also blames the loss of civility in part on social media and the anonymity of it. People take that freedom they feel to post and comment and then publicly hurl verbal expressions with no filter in the same way.
We asked several people on the streets of Washington D.C. to get the pulse of the people on this issue.
“People’s personal problems and their issues – people don’t have empathy for other people at the least and I feel like that is a big problem,” said one woman.
“We always think that people are going to take advantage of you, so you sometimes judge too quickly,” said another woman.
So what can we do better? The wisest words may have come from a 10-year-old boy we spoke with. He told us, “Think before we act.”
There is no doubt incivility has taken a hold in politics and the people we talked to agreed it has permeated other areas of our lives. But the common agreement among them was to go back to the golden rule – treat people the way you want to be treated.