2012! What a year! From a White House snub and, predictably, some celebs losing a bit of their star wattage and luster, to the prevalence of sleepwear in public and a rise in littering, this year social graces were perched perilously close to their own cliff, gone Gangnam style out of control.
But thankfully, kindness also abounded, even in the most atrotious of places.
There is no appropriate category for what happened in the innocent confines of a Colorado movie theater on a warm summer night, or inside an elementary school in an idyllic Connecticut community eleven days before Christmas. Unquestionably, it was evil at its worst.
But out of such horror, emerged stories of heroism - a boyfriend who took a bullet for his girlfriend, and a principal and teachers who lost their lives by lunging at a gunman and shielding their students.
There was a lot of good embedded in those horrific moments in Connecticut and Colorado, and elsewhere, a reminder that even in the most abominable of times, benevolence and mercy can triumph.
Likewise, Superstorm Hurricane Sandy was Mother Nature at her worst this year - paralyzing parts of the northeast and wreaking havoc on many lives. But she didn't dampen the spirit of courage and determination, even in the face of rising tides and disaster. Those affected banded together to help neighbors, and volunteer support poured in from around the world, further evidence that the human spirit of helping one another is still alive and well. We saw it in the first responders, the selfless victims and volunteers from such organizations as the Red Cross who acted quickly to stave off further damage.
Looking back over the many ITMANNERSALOT blogs and columns posted and published this year online, at BakersfieldMom.com and in BakersfieldLife Magazine, some antics and other acts of thoughtfulness stood out. Herewith, is the best of the worst, and the creme of the crop, along with the hope that 2013 will usher in more good manners. After all, it 'MANNERS A LOT'!
THE BEST OF 2012:
1. Ann Curry: The class and grace the morning show co-host displayed during weeks of speculation of her demotion was worthy of an Academy Award. She too had read the blogs, the headlines, the anonymous quotes her employers had given to the press. She continued to show up for work, held her head high, turned a cheek, and bowed out with elegance.
2. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: One year after a gunman interrupted her life and those of 19, representative Giffords returned to Washington to submit her resignation from Congress. She did so with true grit and a determination characterized by faith and courage.
3. Wendy Wayne - Community activist Wendy Wayne lost her battle with cancer in June. She'd battled it before, and conquered it. This time, she knew she was outmatched, and decided hers had been a life well-lived, and surrendered gracefully, making her final days and hours special for those dearest to her. A grief-stricken community held tributes, and established everlasting memorials in the name of the woman who was as much a treasure to Bakersfield and Kern County as she treasured her community.Wendy's journey taught us about the power in the pillars of strength and resolve.
THE WORST OF 2012:
1. The Device: IPad, Ipod, Iphone, Smartphone - whatever the alias, the mobile device could not outsmart bad manners. If only there was an app for that! The virtual distraction still took the place of too many face-to-face conversations. Upgrades only downgraded our real-time interaction with one another to the point that 2012 may be worst remembered for the year we stopped talking to each other. The Gadget also served as a cautionary tale, that what happens in Vegas DOESN'T stay in Vegas, even if you are an heir to the British throne caught with your pants down in a royal flush of embarrassment exposing the crown jewels.
2. The Dismissiveness and Dismissed: Vice President Joe Biden's debate with Congressman Paul Ryan made for some great political theater, but it also exposed Biden's raw hot buttons and inability to contain himself within the confines of a setting where decorum should have been the abiding rule. His ticket may have been re-elected, but his lack of disrespect for his debate partner before a global television audience was not deserving of four more years. Here's hoping he can channel his inner pit bull as he wades into the national debate on gun violence.
In this economy, still crawling its way back from its own fiscal cliff, job layoffs are still common. They are unpleasant for everyone involved. But perhaps no demotion played itself out on the national stage more painfully than NBC's mishandling of the Today Show's Ann Curry and her reassignment. The backlash continues against the network, its venerable morning show, and its star Matt Lauer, widely considered to have placed the knife into his co-host's back. See #3 above.
3. Pajama Partiers: There was a time when sleepwear never saw the light of day outside the confines of one's residence. Probably the same era before cellular phones and the internet. Today, it seems to be the rule, not the exception - wearing pajamas in public. Never a good look, and always in poor taste. I can't help but wonder what will be next?
4. The Litterbug: Back for the second year in a row, the Litterbug was more like an infestation, especially in Kern County. Parking lots, auditorium seats and roadways were used as trash cans with increased frequency. Littering is a violation of local ordinances, and the ultimate sign of disrespect to our beautiful community. I heard too many complaints from out-of-towners who were aghast at the debris that littered the on and off ramps to our highways. Let's exterminate the Litterbug infestation in 2013!
5. The Famous Behaving Infamously: Besides the usual suspects like Lindsay Lohan, there were others who once again gave celebrity a black eye. Olivier Martinez gave Halle Berry's ex, Gabriel Aubry a shiner on Thanksgiving day, Angust Jones threw his own meal ticket - the hit TV show "Two and a Half Men" under the bus, actress Kristen Stewart felt compelled to purge herself of the secret the "Twilight" star had been harboring, her affair with her "Snow White and Huntsman" director, and Stanley Cup goalie Tim Thomas' inexplicably decided to turn down an invitation from the White House. Memo to all of the above: Your adoring fans are watching. Think FIRST before speaking, slugging or snubbing!