A Waste of Skin

One of my former students posted on Facebook about the verbal abuse she suffers from customers at McDonalds. The epithets are ugly and intolerable, and I won’t perpetuate them by writing them down.

I really wonder about people.

It bothers me a lot that a belief seems to be floating around that if you are abusive you are tough, at the top of your game, or at least can’t be taken advantage of. TV shows and political candidates perpetuate the myth that that’s how the big boys behave.

They should have met my grandmother – five foot two, a straight-backed, old-fashioned schoolteacher, and every inch a Nova Scotia aristocrat. She would have observed such behaviors and with faint distaste, labeled them “vulgar.”

What she and the generations before her knew, is that society is not about any one person or their personal desires. It’s about forging ahead as a species, because life is hard and the way we bipeds got to the top of the food chain is by cooperation, not by gratuitously attacking our own.

People knew all about the illusion of power generated by hurting others. That’s why the true leaders, thinkers and builders developed good manners and social norms. Going down the bully road is a choice to become, in today’s slang, a waste of skin.

We are a species of builders, makers, and thinkers. What kind of building, making or thinking goes into an adult calling a teenager ugly names?

So very vulgar.