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This is a “passionate” subject for me and I admit I will not do it justice.  But I must say something if for no other reason than my having a clear conscience.  It won’t help but…

I wish to discuss two things today – dress and speech.  Two subjects, each having volumes of books devoted to them.  I am going to concern myself primarily with our lower and middle class.  For the most part, the upper class of society has kept up with tradition and it is of limited concern the minimal amount they may have “fallen”.  And for any wishing to “run in those circles”, they will as well.  This will of course set those of the “politically correct” persuasion on edge.  I am singling out those “less fortunate”.  Yet another nail in the coffin of the “99%”.  It is not due to a dislike for them.  I myself am a member of the middle class.   However, it is what it is.  And as the old saying goes, “what you are is your parents’ fault, if you stay that way it is your own.”  As well, for those familiar with this blog you will realize I do not now, nor will I in the future, care.  The politically correct have been, and continue to be, significant contributors to this problem so their thoughts on the subject are irrelevant.

I have an “app” on my phone called BeSpeak.  For those that do not have a wardrobe consultant (I do), it helps the “style impaired” with what clothing is best suited to them and how to dress properly.   There is another called SnapDress.  It allows one to actually take a picture of clothing to determine if it is appropriate for your “profile”.  The 21st Century does have some amazing technology (if used appropriately).  However, technology or not, many just don’t care.  They do the minimum necessary to fit into the minimum, current dress for which their “industry” calls.  There is no doubt in my mind that the current state of dress and speech are not only demonstrative of the degradation of our society and culture as a whole, but contributed to their downfall.  I spoke before about civility in cyberspace.  This, of course, is only a small piece of the overall issue.  Civility in general is lacking.  Call it how you want – it is virtually lost in society as whole.  How we treat each other – opening doors for females, thank you notes, RSVP, saying please.  Our music, our television shows, our movies.  Our dress in public (even in private…).  What little civility exists is quite limited these days and is primarily found in the upper echelons of the financially well off.

From the time of the Renaissance to mid-20th Century the world operated in a more formal and dignified manner.  The elegance and grace with which they conducted themselves was astonishing.  While everything was certainly not perfect, they, for the most part, represented themselves in dress and speech in a civilized way in their everyday lives.  This translated to a cultured and urbane society at every level.

As an example – Downton Abbey.  My wife has gotten me hooked on this television show about a late 19th Century – early 20th Century English earl (the Earl of Grantham), his family (the Crawley family) and the servants that work for them.

I am really not that excited about the actual story.  It is interesting to an extent but I am far more interested in the portrayal of the times and methods of interaction – the clothing, language and manner of speaking with and treating each other.  While they are certainly not always “nice” to each other, they are formal, even polite, and proper in their relations and dress.  It is a dignified and refined manner of interaction and presentation.

And this is not limited to the “upstairs”.  It is not limited to the earl’s family and his circle of friends.  The “downstairs” staff also functions in this manner.  They address each other at all times in a formal manner.  Mr. Carson (the butler), Mr. Bates (Lord Grantham’s valet), Mrs. Hughes (the head housekeeper), Mrs. Patmore (the head cook).  You have to be as “lowly” as a mere footman or scullery maid (pretty much the bottom of the chain and quite young anyway) to be addressed by your first name.  But at the time you are promoted to a higher level, you immediately are referred to in the formal manner.  In the U.S. we came to be somewhat less formal even before that timeframe.  But the extent of that limited informality came in such situations as the Southern Plantations (or cities for that matter) where females were still addressed as “Miss” and first name (even those married) while men were still always addressed as “Mister” and last name or just plain “Sir”.  Within families or with very close, longtime friends (and normally in more private affairs) these rules were usually relaxed.

In additional to how they address each other and the formal manner in which they speak, is the way the dress.  Regardless of your position, you dressed “properly”.  Even the “lowly” footman wore white tie and tails to serve dinner and what we would consider black tie at other times on duty.  When they are not on duty they still were appropriate slacks and “sport” coats or more casual suits.  When the men went hunting it was in suit and tie (casual, but a suit none the less).  When outside they virtually always wore a formal hat (vice baseball cap).  When on a picnic the women wore dresses.  Not a formal gown of course.  That was reserved for the evening meal or other such formal occasion (where the men wore white tie with double-cuff sleeves (aka – French Cuff)).  During one episode one of the female relatives (Isobel Crawley) showed up at the manor in quite appropriate daytime dress to speak with the family.  When invited to dinner she politely refused because she was not wearing proper dinner attire (although what she WAS wearing was far nicer than what people these days wear to an evening out).  While many may suggest that this is the household of a noble and so appearances must be kept up, scenes from elsewhere in the show prove otherwise.  Scenes from the town showed that EVERYBODY dressed and acted as formally as their station in life would allow.  Shopkeepers wore suits.  Even mechanics working on machinery wore suits.  Gentlemen farmers and their farmhands wore suits.  Females were always in dresses.  I cross “the pond” to the US and look at old time photos of the Wright brothers in their bicycle shop (lest you believe this is just on TV – see original photo below), men panhandling for gold in rivers, ladies of all walks and stations of life.  They ALL were in suits and ties or long dresses often with lace.  East Coast or West, North or South.  “White Collar” or “Blue Collar”…  People cared about their appearance.  People cared about how they presented themselves to others and it made for a far more well-mannered, gracious, respectful society.

OW in shop

Orville Wright in his shop (the one working in the suit)

And now we are in the present…  I’ve actually seen people in upscale hotel (not motel) lobbies, stores, parks and other place of public dressed in pajamas.  People wear sweats and “flip flops” out to a sit down restaurant – sometimes formal (fast food restaurants are bad enough).  Places that used to have dress codes (including a rack of jackets and ties for the gentlemen that “forgot” to wear his) now have people in jeans and t-shirts.  Grown men at church in shorts, a t-shirt and athletic shoes (or even flip flops again).  Boys out in public or going to school with pants hanging off their derrière, underwear showing and continually having to pull them up so they can walk without tripping.  Other than just looking ridiculous, it has got to be problematic.  Why would one add to the problems they already face?  Girls think it absurd as well by the way.  While I will not go so far as to advocate the complete formality of the past, I certainly would be ok with not even considering going outside without a casual suit or sport coat (and maybe even tie).

Concerning speech…  I am led to understand, by actual high school English teachers, that what has been considered “informal speech” in the past is now acceptable in virtually any manner of our lives.  Miss Manners be damned.  While we have always had “formal” and “informal” (slang?) grammar, “acceptable” grammar at all levels has been reduced to the lowest common denominator.  Using a preposition to end a sentence with?  No problem.  Using “can” in place of “may” (can I go to the restroom)?  That’s fine.  Listing a group of names with that of the speaker first?  Perfectly acceptable.  It is just an informal way of speaking and we are to accept it in polite society.  Why teach correct English when we can just modify the standards to what the average 3th grade student of the past used.  “Can I go to the restroom?” from a High School student.  How ridiculous.  And their English teachers allow it!  What they fail to realize is in fact polite society does NOT accept it.  You will be looked down upon and treated with distain.  And then wonder why you can’t advance your station in life.  We are leading our lower and middle class children into believing they can work their way up the corporate and societal ladder without regard to how polite society speaks and acts.  They are being held back without even knowing it.  Then they blame “the man” for “keeping them down”.  It is not the man.  It is their own acceptance of what our society, at its lower levels, now accepts as the norm and teaches (or at very least, accepts) in its schools. As an aside – don’t get me wrong.  Our schools are doing much better than that for which many give them credit.  In some regards though we are not having our students live up to a high enough standard.  We are accepting lowered societal standards.  We are dumbing down society.  More on schools in a future post.

This leads to a situation today where the crudeness of, the vulgarity in, our speech is beyond the pale.  It is inexcusable and indefensible.  Mainstream songs, movies, even television shows demonstrate crassness never before imagined – often in the name of free speech.  I am in no way desiring to limit free speech by law (except in obvious case of libel, slander, danger (yelling fire in a crowded theater), and such situations).  However, it is a mark of polite society to limit our OWN speech.  We shouldn’t have be have laws or policies against it.  It should be taught and observed from the youngest age that it is just not done.

What strikes me most is how we’ve lost this.  “Things change” we are told.  “Keep up with the times” we are told.  That would be great if the times were improving.  I would submit in many respects our times ARE improving.  Our technology is making the world “smaller” via communication and transportation improvements.  It is improving medical care and therefore our quality (and length)  of life in many respects.  However, I defy anyone to demonstrate how changing to a more informal (for lack of a better word) society in dress and speech is making our culture – our society – a better place in which to live.  We are losing all respect for ourselves and our fellow man.

Now of course you may say, “What has this got to do with us?”  We like the more informal way of life.  It works for us and we are hurting nobody through it.  With which I would disagree.  Your being ok with, and supporting, ill-mannered, gracious less, disrespectful society affects the rest of us.  We will discuss this next time.

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

Randomness or Weariness

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So, working on taxes.  Not happy.  Which I think is kinda a requirement when doing taxes.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for paying my fair share. Whoa! Almost sounding like a liberal there. Wait. No. I’m ok. Libs are for OTHERS paying THEIR “fair share.”  Hard to keep this stuff straight sometimes.

So, where was I?

I have been somewhat remiss in my blogging.  My excuse?  No, I have not run out of things to say.  By far.  I’m going with illness and work. Of course, had my wife taken proper care of me I would not have gotten sick.  Of this she is well aware.  Mainly because I made her so.  Work on the other hand is work.  For some reason the payroll department seems to want me to show up to “earn” my pay (sorry, my wife’s pay – I suspect I will get that wrong many times today).  Sigh!  Maybe switching to Liberal wouldn’t be so bad.  I’m sure somebody out there wouldn’t mind having their money stolen and given to us for my wife’s benefit.  Off topic (although I’m not yet sure what the topic of the day is).

Where was I?  Working on taxes.  Boy is that a fun thing to do.  You are always caught between loving and hating the thought of a large return.  Loving it because it is “found” money.  Hating it because when you think about it, and you should, it is YOUR money that you lost in the first place.  While it is never fun to write yet another check to the government so it can waste even MORE of your hard earned money, getting a refund of your interest free loan to those bureaucrats is not the best thought either.  Although I am nowhere near the end of this year’s journey into the annual tax nightmare, I have no doubt I will be writing that check.  To all you Libs out there, you are welcome.  To all you conservatives out there, where the heck are you?  What’s the deal leaving me to continue to fund bridges to nowhere, midnight basketball and mating habits of African Bullfrogs (or was it Australian?).  Next time get off your sofa and vote!  I blame YOU far more than the bottom-of-the-pyramid Libs.  They are just sheep.  Pawns with no desire to educate themselves.  Apathetic.  Easier to just follow their government shepherds and eat whatever the mass media feeds them.  But enough of that.

So many things to discuss.  So many things in this country that need tweaking or a major overhaul.  So many things I am just not in the mood to discuss today.  I am tired.  Illness?  Work?  The problems of this country and the world?  I don’t know.  Just tired.  The more I venture out and view the actions and interactions of my fellow man, the more tired I grow.  Maybe not tired.  Maybe weary.  At church today we were instructed on the parts of the whole.  Not to despair at whatever part you are to play.  The example, for those of you that have ventured into the world of the Bible, was of a physical body.  The foot, the hand, the ear, the eye.  Each has a reason for being.  Each should except its role and understand it has an important part to play.  The idea is that we individuals also have a specific role to play.  A role in the totality of mankind.  I sat there and thought about that (yes, I can think and pay attention at the same time).  I thought many of the problems we have in society may very well come from many of us not “playing” our role.  Not satisfied with being a foot or an ear.  Always thinking that someone else has a better role to play and against all the talents with which we’ve been blessed we try to be something we are not.  Why is that?

For some odd reason we look up to the White Collar workers – the doctors, lawyers, professors, etc.  We look down on the “unskilled”, Blue Collar workers – the garbage man (sorry, sanitation engineers), custodian, cook, etc.  Why is that?  When we come home from work in the evening on “Trash Day” are we not glad the can is empty and prepared for another week of our rubbish?  When we go out for a nice evening on the town or a Sunday breakfast are we not glad there is a cook in the kitchen of our chosen restaurant?  Are we not happy the end of each work day does not include having to take our waste basket to the dumpster?  Someone will be there after we leave to clear it out.  We all have a role to play.  We should be not only thankful for our own, we should be thankful for that of each of our fellow man.

That said, I see much of the problems of society and the world stemming from individuals that want to play a role for which they are not suited.  As mentioned, we all have God given talents (and yes, God still gave you talents whether you believe in Him or not).  To be truly happy in life, it behooves us to make a determined effort to recognize and appreciate what ours are and make it our life’s ambition to select an appropriate role.  A role that uses the talents we have.  Not only for our benefit, but the benefit of all.  Not only would we be happier, but mankind as a whole would be far better off.

So many want to be something they are not, should not and often cannot.  But for whatever reason – envy; desire; pressure from peers, parents, others in authority – they insist their “lot in life” is not theirs.  They MUST be something they are not.  They MUST be something for which they are not prepared.  For which they have no talent.  If an individual’s talents lie in a specific area and they fail to use them, something in the play of mankind is not getting done.  A role is not being played.  This tends to throw everything out of whack.  Take my word for it (or not, don’t really care all that much today), everything is out of whack.  The play is not following the script.  This leads not only to unhappiness on the part of the individual but a “disturbance in the force” (yes, I actually said that).  There is currently a major disturbance.  I believe my weariness derives from this disturbance and, in part, my lack of time, talent or treasure to fix it.  I know, I know.  Who the heck am I to take the world on my shoulders?  I’m actually not.  My weariness stems from the knowledge that neither is anyone else.  So many of us are not fulfilling our role.  Nobody individually is able to solve the problem.  However, as each domino falls due to someone not fulfilling their role, those around it, fulfilling their obligation or not, are also brought down.  This leads to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.  Sigh…

Ok…  back to taxes.  The topic or the task?  As long as everyone is of the understanding that I am (sorry, my wife is) being robbed and my (sorry, her) treasure is being wasted, I will get back to the task.  However, if I learn in the future that some of you out their actually believe I am (she is) not paying my (her) fair share, I shall delve DEEPLY into the subject and pelt you unmercifully with the facts.  You WON’T like it I assure you…

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…