Permission to Misbehave?

I heard a conversation today that I have to argue with. It was about how the man in the White House has set the tone for people behaving badly.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think the current president is one of the lowest, most vile people I have ever had put in front of me constantly via TV and social media. It is an almost daily occurrence that makes me recoil in disgust each time I am subjected to the things he says and tweets.

However, my problem is that I don’t understand why one person, whether he be president or the guy down the street, acting in an offensive and uncivil way suddenly gives me or any one else “permission” to follow suit.

I think about the old saying moms used to use – “Well, if little Jimmy jumped off of a bridge, would you?”

Parents used that remark to tell us that just because someone else did something awful, or said something rude, did not mean it was acceptable for us to do that same thing.

My desire to be polite and not to hurt others is not based on what someone else is saying or doing. It is built on doing what I know is right and polite. It is grounded in the golden rule and in the premise that we are to love one another. It is rooted in years of trying to be a better person.

No matter what someone else decides to do, my morals, my compassion, my character should not be so easily influenced that I am willing to give it all up because someone, no matter what their position, does not have a moral compass.

If people who were always hateful, divisive, racist or mean spirited suddenly feel they have permission to be that way more publicly because the current White House resident is, let me just say this:

At least if you are going to be mean, be enough of a person to take responsibility for your words and actions. You are being the way you are because you made the decision to be that way. No one else is responsible- you have made the choice to be offensive or mean or whatever.

No one is making you be that way. No one is giving you permission to be that way.

Is 45 a horrible example? Yes. But you do not have to follow that example.

We need to stop the idea that anyone is doing anything more than unleashing the kind of conduct that the ill behaved had anyway. They might feel more empowered to flaunt that bad behavior when it is modeled to them from so high up, but these rude people had issues already.

I don’t believe that any right minded person suddenly decided it was OK to be mean spirited just because of a bad example. I don’t think that the majority of people are willing to sell their soul because of one rotten apple in a high position.

It is time we stand up and take responsibility for our own actions. It is time we started remembering who we are. It is time we try to remember what good manners and good judgement looks like. It is time to be civil.

I have to believe the majority of people are good.

And I don’t think anyone gave us permission to misbehave.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.