I have seen many changes in my lifetime. Some of these changes I applaud. But others I lament. Here are a few changes I lament–or at least I wonder about.
You’re in a restaurant. The waitperson brings you water. You say, “Thank you.” She says, “No problem.” You ask the car mechanic if he could check the air filter. He says, “Sure! No problem.” You ask the deli clerk for a half a pound of shaved ham, and she says, “No problem!” My question is this: where did this no problem come from? And how and why has it usurped the place of phrases such as you’re welcome or I’d be happy to?
You turn on the TV news. The first words you hear are Breaking News! Or you go on line and there’s a headline in big red letters flashing BREAKING NEWS! Your first thought is: something awful is happening. But then you learn that the so-called breaking news is a rather ordinary news story about a water main break or an arrest for a robbery. It used to be that the phrase breaking news was reserved for something major and in progress. Now it seems to be used just to grab our attention.
And here’s another thing about news that I lament. What constitutes news? The priest sexual abuse scandal—now that was news, yet (as shown in the movie Spotlight) the Boston newspapers buried the story for years. And what about the more recent news about Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water supply? The news media never picked up on that story for months! What constitutes news is changing. Now news means not a significant event with serious ramifications. No, news now seems to mean the latest celebrity gossip or the ever-present turmoil in the world of sports.
Whatever happened to plain old applause too? We used to show our appreciation for a concert, a play, a speech by simply clapping. The longer the applause, the greater the appreciation. Now it seems we must also stand up! Now, I have nothing against standing ovations per se. In fact, I have participated in several of them myself. But I have also sat through some of them. Why? Because I believe standing ovations should be reserved for outstanding performances.
And whatever happened to dressing up? It seems the more affluent we’ve become, the sloppier we dress… And who invented the word (and the concept) of multi-tasking? Now we are expected to do several things at the same time. We eat, send a text, check our email, carry on a conversation with our spouse, and empty the dishwasher—all at the same time. Why can’t we enjoying doing ONE TASK at a time and doing it well without feeling guilty or inadequate?
And then there’s the way we use or misuse the English language. Some people say I could care less when they obviously mean I couldn’t care less. The distinction between words such as lie (to rest or recline) and lay (to put or place) has gone by the wayside. But, to be honest, I can live with this change. I can let lie lie… and I can lay lay aside. Language is alive. It’s always changing. I accept that.
But whatever happened to thank you notes—any kind will do. Email, phone calls, or (the best ever) real thank you notes that you write in your own hand, slip into an envelope, stick a stamp on it, and send it through the mail? And whatever happened to………
I realize that some of the changes I’m lamenting are small and inconsequential. And if I’m going to lament, then I should lament the erosion of greater things such as these:
- the assuming of personal responsibility for one’s action
- having a sense for the common good…. being willing to personally sacrifice something for the benefit of the whole.
I realize I’m sounding like a cranky old lady here. If my tone is annoying you, I promise you this: In the future, I will write a blog on changes I applaud!
In this world of change, we seek a few constants. This song celebrates one great constant in our lives: God will not let go of us. This song is sung by Laura Story:
Are there some changes you lament? Are there changes you applaud?
Did any words from the song touch you today?
PS: This Saturday, April 23, I will be speaking at the Catholic Women’s Conference in the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. My two talks are entitled “The Role of Wonder and Play in Our Spiritual Life” and “Is Mercy a Noun or a Verb?” I’m sharing the stage with Kathy Coffey, a writer from Denver whom I have admired for many years. I’m excited about meeting her. Thank you for your prayers for this day and for the almost 300 women expected to come!