Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why We're Jerks

In light of some of the despicable actions reported over Sukkos by Orthodox Jews - lack of basic manners, proper derech eretz (similar to manners), and simple respect for one another - Elie asks simply:
But I guess the first question would be, how on earth did we ever get the way we are now?
I responded in the comments (so please excuse the lack of clarity, grammar, and other problems) what I think much of it stems from. This is but one of many issues, but one I've noticed more and more often, particularly the longer I've lived in New York City:
Too many people wanting their children to have everything they didn't, resulting in people who think everything is coming to them? It's one of many possibilities.

People don't teach proper middos often enough, and I am a firm believer that this is more true in larger cities, particularly NY/NJ. The more 'rushed' everything is around you, the more you are forced to 'fend for yourself' in all the little things. This leads to a subconscious disposal of basic manners.

People like to point to the great way people responded on 9/11 as a testament to how 'nice' and 'great' NYers are. While that was great, rallying in a time of crisis is not surprising or incredibly extraordinary. People aren't generally 'bad' people who are completely selfish. They simply lose focus of what's important, getting swept up by what's going on around them on a daily basis.

What's important is to have that kindness, that derech eretz, that kavod ha'adam, that unselfishness - *all* the time, not just when it's desperately needed.

If doing it for its own sake isn't enough, look at these posts and see what happens when we don't.