Since the debut of this blog, and its companion column in BakersfieldLifeMagazine in February of this year, the message of civility has quickly taken root, resonating with readers disgusted with the decline of social graces. The feedback, experiences and suggestions have been wonderful, reminding me that while I often feel I am swimming upstream on this mission, we are all in this boat together in our quest to restore civility. 2011 was a year chalked full of the best and worst in good behavior, in our own backyard and on the national stage. Pouring over the past twelve months of blogs and columns, there were strong contenders on both sides of the bad form fence. High-fives were in order for those motorists yielding the right of way to another driver, those who greeted strangers with a smile, and others who engaged in verbal eye-to-eye communication WITHOUT the use of an electronic device, to name a few. And there were plenty of lowlights we'd all rather forget as well, including the people who mistook roadways and parking lots for their own trash can, and others who thought nothing of engaging in spirited private phone conversations in public restroom stalls. My goal of initiating and continuing public discourse over the importance of civility, which really DOES 'Manner A lot', remains unchanged going into 2012. To the readers who have weighed in with their own questions and concerns, as well as ideas sent by e-mail and calls into CalifornianRadio, a heartfelt thanks for hopping aboard on this journey to restore social graces and a toast of the champagne glass to a more civil new year. With 2011 coming to a close, ItMannersAlot unwraps its inaugural list of winners and losers:
THE WORST OF 2011:
1. The Litterer. It became easier and easier this year to trash-talk this year's worst offender - Litterbugs on foot and on wheels. Nevermind that littering is a violation of local ordinances. The occurance of trash and dirty diapers being tossed out of moving vehicles, or disposed of in parking lots and movie theaters was appaling. This act of disrespect initiated public service campaigns aimed at heightening the community's awareness. And sadly, we're not alone. From coast to coast, other states and municipalities are battling the trash epidemic as well. ENOUGH already! Let's TRASH this bad community habit in 2012!
2. The Cell Phone. No question these ingenius devices made our life easier this year, but they also triggered the degeneration of our behavior. Not only was it the year we STOPPED talking to each other, except to tweet, text and twitter, but the public's obsession with the mobile phone and its interference with polite behavior moved but one text away from 9-1-1! Inappropriate use of the mobile phone led to distracted driving, made taking in a movie an unpleasant experience for some, and brought down the rising political career of at least one U.S. Congressman. Here's hoping users hang up, don't answer, and silence their devices in the new year until it is safe, quiet and private to talk, and leave photo sessions to the imagination.
3. Celebrities Behaving Badly. From Oregon coach Chip Kelly telling rabid Duck fans to shut up while in the midst of a post-game interview, to actor Alex Baldwin's less than friendly attempt to fly on American Airlines, by way of throwing Greyhound under the bus, and the high-def histrionics of Charlie Sheen, these high profile folks landed in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. But none more so than attention-a-holic Kim Kardashian, whose wedding to NBA player Kris Humphreys lasted fewer minutes than it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn, and certainly even less time than it took to have her makeup applied for the reality shoot of her nuptials. Even groundhogs suspected the joke was on us. But no one was laughing about Kardashian's major faux pas in NOT returning the wedding gifts, but opting instead to donate the monetary value of the presents to charity. Wha? Like them or loathe them, celebs like Kardashian who have hijacked the public spotlight are admired and looked up to, and should know better, whether aboard an airliner or in divorce court.
THE BEST OF 2011:
1. JAPAN'S QUAKE SURVIVORS & TUSCALOOSA RESIDENTS. Without out a doubt, the people of Japan, who survived the devastating 8.9 earthquake in March off the country's east coast, displayed unimaginable grace and compassion in embracing the human conditions resulting from the disaster. Tens of thousands were killed, even more were displaced, and the toll of human suffering remains incalculable. Although unitended, the victims taught the world a valuable lesson in empathy and mercy. The same could be said for the residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who witnessed unbelievable devastation when a series of tornados tore through their community in April killing hundreds. The residents and survivors banded together to begin the healing, and inspired their neighbors in weather-stricken states around the country to do the same.
2. LAWAY ANGELS. Occupiers and Protestors grabbed headlines this year, yet, seemingly out of nowhere, angels appeared, most annonymous, in layaway departments of retail stores around the country. And in coffee and fast-food drive-throughs. What a beautiful movement of paying it forward and comitting conscious acts of kindness, without fanfare or recognition, in the true spirit of giving. May this be a growing trend in 2012.
3. The Royal Wedding. There were several royal nuptials this year, but ItMannersAlot sends a 'virtual' thank-you note to Prince William and his bride Kate. Their lavish union not only gave a global audience a reason to wake up early, but the occasion served as a glittery reminder to a new generation of brides and bridegrooms who will say 'I do' in 2012, as well as their bridal parties and guests, of the important role we all play in the pomp and pageantry surrounding one of life's most momentous occasions. From the obligation of giving a wedding present to responding to the invitation, the royals reminded us that all things big and small related to the marriage of two people really DO 'Manner A lot'.