What happened to decency?

I’m not one of those people who thinks the world is “going to hell in a hand basket,” but sometimes it really feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. 

Enter Donald Trump.  Need I say more?

This is not a political blog. There was much in the recent GOP debate to be commended, and even committed Republicans aren’t sure the Donald is one of them – a fact he made pretty clear in front of all America. I’m not taking issue with the Republican platform or any of my Republican friends. 

But how could any respectable American, anyone with a sense of decorum or common courtesy, support a man who repeatedly makes the most reprehensible comments and takes sophomoric jabs at his opponents and our neighbors in the global community?

A statistically significant portion of Americans now say they would support a man for President who has said in public, “…it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of a**.”

What happened to decency?

I have a hard time even typing the words to his latest offense. It is unimaginable that any public figure with any degree of civility would say, “…she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, whatever…” 

It’s even harder to imagine America not screaming in near-unanimous outrage, but we have not. Where are the usual voices of outrage decrying the moral decline of the nation? Are we actually so blindly partisan, or bitterly angry, that we cannot see disgrace for what it is?

It wasn’t that long ago that American audiences gasped audibly when Rhett Butler issued his infamous, “Frankly my dear…” I’m not longing for the social etiquette of that bygone era, but honestly, have we no shame? What are our values for decency? Do we no longer have any? 

Given the current state of our dysfunction, however, odds are that the billionaire who has made a candidacy out of shockingly distasteful putdowns may even get another boost in the polls.

I’m told that Trump’s appeal is his honesty. Finally, they say, a politician who actually speaks his mind instead of all that politically correct drivel.

Am I alone in preferring a little discretion from those who will lead us? 

If your “honesty” makes you that poor a role model and such an embarrassment to the values of decency and respectability, common courtesy and just basic good manners – it should also disqualify you from being taken seriously in the public and political arenas. 

We deserve so much better.   

I invite Mr. Trump to spend a few mornings in our Park Road Children’s Sunday School classes.   He would learn something about respect for all people - even those without wealth and power and prestige and physical beauty. He would learn some important lessons about the role of civility and basic human kindness in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic world.   He might even come to understand that love and respect will always trump power and money.

Ultimately, political decisions about economic policy and Iran may be less important to the actual fate of our country than the standard our leaders set for the nation, especially the impressionable next generations.

And if we survive – but lose our essential character in the process – what have we really gained? With Mr. Trump continuously in the media, we’re well on our way to losing our vital sense of decency.

Photo by Jason Tester