“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.”Laurence Sterne
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.Dr. Seuss
“We should all consider each other as human beings, and we should respect each other.”Malala Yousafzai
I have noticed a thing about myself. Noticing by the way is something I do way too often, sometimes with depressing consequences. But that’s for another blog post. I’m a man of a certain age, but I don’t want to act like one. Not that I’m parkouring, or anything like that, but that I don’t want to be old man shouting at clouds. So I try to cut out any residual behavior, or (and this is the most difficult) modes of thinking. I’m not an old man who thinks typical old man thoughts about the younger generations. I think that “okay boomer” is often a well deserved retort. By the way, I’m right on the edge of boomer and gen x, but I think I identify with gen x much more, at least when I read about that generation, I find myself nodding my head much more than with boomers. (Feel free to mutter “okay boomer”.)
Now, about that thing I’ve noticed. I spent nine years in the military, and it definitely had an impact on me. I was an impressionable kid, and the military has fine-tuned their boot camp experience just for kids like me. Hell, they change the way you tell time. At least here in the USA. Which by the way, twenty-four hour time is far superior. I mean how the hell do you write the time otherwise? Upper case AM, or lower? Is there a space between? Just go with “see you at 2030” and be done with it. So yeah. The military changed me. And many of those changes have stuck.
Being from the south also impressed many customs and mannerisms on me. That cordial, and often fake, niceness used when greeting folks. A simple “have a nice day” spoken with that cloyingly sweet, and completely opposite intention… yeah, that’s the south. Bless our little hearts. Sorry, I’ve digressed. I have a problem with that. So combine that forced respect drilled into me with the knee-jerk niceness of the south and you have me calling everyone sir for the rest of my life. But wait. Sir? What about the women-folks you ask. Yeah. That’s it. That’s the problem. I default to sir for almost every male person I interact with. But the women? I am of course respectful, but I don’t use “ma’am”. WTF?! That’s all kinds of bad things. Okay Boomer… do something.
I honestly do respect the women I interact with. Those I work with, and others. Absolutely I do. But you couldn’t if you were listening to my speech. At least with the “sir” thing. I suppose it goes back to my time in the Navy. I served on a submarine, and at the time it was male only. So everyone whom I was supposed to call sir I did. Regardless of the actual respect felt. My philosophy at the time was that I was respecting the uniform, not necessarily the person. Is that it? When I call folks sir, especially at work, am I respecting their contributions, their experience, their integral position in the organization? I think that’s it. I am certain it’s not sexism. Honest. But I will think on this more. And until I can figure this little kernel of me out better I am curtailing the use of sir. I’m not in the Navy anymore. This’ll be hard. It’s more habit than anything. But if I can quit smoking, I can quit this.
Wanting to be a better person, boomer or not.
Peace and love.
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