A grumpy old man is getting tired of the hate

As much as I’ve attempted to swaddle myself in a blanket of denial, I am indeed getting older.

I’m not speaking strictly in a chronological sense, though that number continues to climb each year, but more so as a personal observation regarding changes I’ve noticed about myself. One could easily take a look at my head, adjust their eyes to the impact of the glare that’s been known to offer temporary blindness on command, and assume I’m speaking of that as the first sign.

No, that sign first started making an appearance in about the 11th grade. I’m speaking on other, less visible changes.

For instance, I’ve noticed that I now come with my own background music. I stand up from my chair at work and am greeted with a cacophony of bones cracking and a soft, heartfelt moan rising from my lungs. I wake up in the middle of the night to get rid of that sip of water I ingested before falling asleep and the sweet sounds of sinuses being tormented by an evil clown on bath salts fills the air, with the booming bass of a body groan offering a little rhythm and pace.

I’m a hot piece of man, aren’t I?

It’s not just the assortment of sounds emanating from me that offers evidence that I’m morphing into an old man. Au contraire, dear readers. This goes well beyond creaks and other signs of a complete physical apocalypse. It has now evolved into a full-fledged, old-person-state-of-mind situation.

You see, I recently found myself grousing about the current moral climate in this world. I’ve always been a live-and-let-live kind of guy, believing strongly that this planet would be a better place if people just stopped worrying so much about what other people are doing. In some ways, I still am. There should be one law in this country, in my humble opinion, and it should offer severe punishment if violated: Don’t mess with anybody else.

Don’t steal from people. Don’t touch people who don’t want to be touched. Don’t kill. Don’t rape. Don’t destroy the property of others. Don’t judge. Don’t misuse your power if you are in a position of authority. Don’t do things that put others in danger. Just don’t bother other people trying their hardest to get through this masochistic, exhausting, confounding thing we call life.

Boom. That’s it.

But I’ve recently found myself getting upset over the behavior of others, particularly when it comes to respect — both towards other people, and to themselves.

There’s a level of self-entitlement I see from people on a more regular basis than I remember seeing before, from how people park in three spots in a crowded parking lot to how they just run you over when walking along the boardwalk to how they just simply expect everything to be given to them or how they talk down to people serving them food or helping them in a store. Make no mistake about it — this is not an indictment of our younger generations. Rude, entitled people are found in every generation.

Remember when it was considered poor form to discuss politics or religion? Try having a conversation with someone or scrolling through your social media feeds without getting bombed by people from all sides. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge believer in free speech and for people to share what they are passionate about if that’s what they wish, but if you take a second to think about it, don’t you see that it’s astonishingly rude to question the intelligence or patriotism of people who have differing opinions? If someone has a different faith, does that necessarily make that person a monster?

Or, is that just what we’ve become?

Really, it’s no suprise that bullying has become such a major issue for our youth. Young people learn from watching adults. Today’s adults take it upon themselves to belittle people who are different. Are we seeing a trend? We are right now developing tiny little hate-mongers because we are big hate-mongers.

And the beat goes on. One generation to the next.

When I saw the reception given to the families involved in Operation SEAs the Day last week, I had shivers. Our community, as it has done so many times in the past, stepped up and offered love, admiration and respect to the people who have actively served our nation with honor, and the families who, just as importantly, kept the home fires burning in their absence. As a veteran myself, my chest filled with pride over how these families were received and I shared videos of the parade with some of the men I served with years ago.

I was showing all of you off, so to speak.

It displayed what good can come of people working together for a common goal of simply doing the right thing — of trying to make someone’s life a little more joyous, if only for a short period of time. We see it when families lose their homes to fires, or children get sick and the families need financial help or people just basically need a hand.

I know we’re not perfect, by any means, but we do rally when there is a reason. I just wish we would all rally around each other on a daily basis, both locally and globally.

Of course, these are probably just the ramblings of an old man.