This past week, my 10-year-old daughter was able to fulfill her greatest dream (so far) – seeing Taylor Swift in concert. Anna Kate gets fixated on certain activities or people, and those things become her obsession until something else deflects her fascination. She is one of the growing number of children diagnosed with autism, but Anna Kate’s reaction to Taylor Swift is very typical of the average young lady. She loves her music, the way she looks, and her unashamed innocence. In many ways, Swift is a throwback to the days long before it became fashionable to be worldly at an early age. She is sweet, doesn’t flaunt her youthful beauty, and is always polite.
The day after the concert experience, and still very much on the mind of my young daughter, we watched a news report about the country music singer receiving an award for one of her videos. According to the story, another artist jumped up on the stage just as Swift was about to have her moment in the spotlight during this award show, and grabbed the microphone away in order to endorse another artist whom he thought was deserving of the award being presented to Swift. It was in poor taste. The timing was unfortunate, and it left the young Swift looking shell-shocked. The incident has since provoked conversations and opinions in every medium from entertainment television to Facebook.
The bigger issue, in my opinion, is this trend toward doing whatever comes to mind, regardless of whom it may offend. I hear the term “disrespect” used a lot, especially the slang abbreviation “dis,” but I don’t hear or see many references to the contrary – respect. Aretha Franklin paid homage to it many years ago – even spelling it out for us in her song, just in case we did not immediately get it. We seem to have lost some of that, as well as our gentility, along the way.
How about one of our senators calling the President of the United States a liar, in public and in front of all of their colleagues? It does not matter which side of the fence you happen to stand on politically – that not only breaches all rules of decorum and protocol, it simply defies common decency. If you disagree, ask for a private conversation. Or as my mother used to say when I was not acting as I should, “if you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” There are many, many other sayings, all very wise, that we should have heard and learned all the way back to kindergarten. Some of us are in need of a little post-graduate work on the correct way to treat people.