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I suggest cellphone-Jammers. If we ask, someone will build it.
"Thanks" for reminding everyone to express appreciation. Learned a new word -- zeitgeist -- had to look it up.

It’s happened to me many times, two out of three times this week. A woman sitting near me in the Delta Sky Club Lounge at MSP says, “Are you going to be here for awhile?”

“Yes,” I say. “Could you watch my phone,” she says. Her phone is getting its charge in a nearby receptacle. “Sure,” says me.

She goes away for maybe ten minutes, returns, never looks at me, never says “Thanks,” never says a word. I’m thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

At the doctor’s office recently I notice an older woman coming in a few yards behind me, I wait, hold a door, she says, “Oh, I’m slow,” then after passing through, “Thanks.” At another nearby medical office I’m leaving, I see a young woman, obviously pregnant, walking out behind me. I stutter step to slow down, hold two doors, she glances at me, never says a word and walks on.

I tell these two doctor’s office stories because the 60-something said, “Thanks,” and the 20-something did not. I’m not one to dump on the younger generation, but I see and hear this pattern regularly. In my estimation the younger generation has for the most part lost the art of saying, “Thank you.”

I’ll never forget holding a door in 1981 for a coed entering the University of Cincinnati Student Union behind me. She cussed me for doing so in no uncertain and rather loud terms. She didn’t bother to develop her point of view, but I surmise that in her mind I had somehow violated her feminine liberation by my blatant act of chauvinism. Apparently she felt I had not yet learned that women were more than capable of making it on their own.

But this isn’t just a young person’s thing. I’ve experienced this many times over in professional settings. Sometimes the omission is so glaring it’s astounding. People simply assume you should meet their needs, don’t give it, which is to say you, a second thought, or have never been taught good manners in the first place.

I realize that if I extend kindnesses to others in order to garner “Thank yous,” than there is something wrong with my attitude and actions. But I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

I think my Boomer Generation and those who come after us have shed some of our mannerly sensibilities, if we were ever taught them in the first place. While you can find a thousand individual exceptions to this statement, I still think we live in a coarser age. The zeitgeist of the early 21st Century, at least in American culture, is more about Me, the individual, than Others. Add to this a sense of entitlement and you get what we have, a culture that’s lost the art of saying “Thanks.”

I’m certainly not perfect, much less a model. But I’m trying to remember to say “Thanks” more often and certainly when it is deserved, even more when someone has done something for me or mine that, clearly, they did not have to do.

My son-in-law, Joe Drouillard, supports my website, gratis, on his server, at www.jddesignstudio.com. “Thanks, Joe.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

In the wake of disasters or tragedies I hear people, including anchors on national news programs, enjoin us to “Say a little prayer for them.”

Sometimes it’s more personal: “Before I do XYZ I’m going a say a little prayer and just go for it.” Or maybe it’s a plea for assistance: “Say a little prayer for us tonight.” I’ve even heard celebrities on late night talk shows say something like “Say a little prayer” in response to the host observing the guest’s just experienced some good career developments.

So what does “Say a little prayer” mean and where did the phrase originate? Maybe it got started in pop culture in the late 1960s with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s song lyrics:

“I say a little prayer for you.

I say a little prayer for you.

Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, forever we never will part
Oh, how I'll love you…”

Bacharach and David wrote these lyrics as part of the song, “I Say A Little Prayer,” developed for Dionne Warwick in 1967, later recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1968, and later still by several others. The song was and perhaps remains an international hit.

The backstory on the lyrics suggest at least David was trying to invoke metaphoric sympathy for American soldiers in Viet Nam. If so the public never really caught on because people responded to the love story conveyed by Warwick and Franklin and the song is cataloged under "romantic" rather than "social protest." In any event, Bacharach and David probably didn’t invent the phrase. More likely they borrowed it from expressions they’d heard growing up. Assuming this logic, the song served less to initiate a phrase than to borrow and bold print it in the cultural lexicon.

People use the phrase, I think, on several levels:

--Sincerely—asking for or promising prayer, maybe not a lot of prayer but prayer nonetheless.

--Superstitiously—like saying “Wish me luck” or “I hope I’m lucky” or “Knock on wood,” all intended to offer supplication to the fates while hoping for favor.

--Colloquially—using the phrase as filler without really considering much less embracing its possible meaning, like “Have a good one.”

In the last two instances, saying “a little prayer” becomes an easy religious-but-not too-religious way of covering your bets, so to speak. It’s like people crossing themselves who are not and never have been Catholic, sort of a just in case.

Another thing that interests me is the nature of the prayer. What, exactly, is “a little prayer” as opposed to “prayer” or maybe “a big prayer”? To the best of my knowledge there’s no weights and measures in Scripture determining the size of a prayer.

So is asking “Say a little prayer for me” a bad thing? I guess I wouldn’t go there. In the end, I’d rather encourage people to acknowledge rather than ignore God’s will in the world and life, even if it’s simply a “little” bit.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

We tend to be addicted to distractions in this country. Even the earthquake in Japan, though still a present reality in that country, is a distant memory to most of us. God help us.

Given the serious, important, or painful things going on in the world, it seems to me that we spend a lot of time, money, media, and cyberspace on things that don’t matter. Perhaps it’s irony, but I’m going to do it too, but just for this list. Here’re my nominees for unimportant things that get way too much attention:

--Charlie Sheen – Whether for real or a charade or self-parody Sheen isn’t a star, he’s sad. Inside Sheen is a person that is important, but what he’s doing to himself and offering the world is toxic.

--More New Kinds of Pet Food.

--“Blessing of the Animals” - Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, part of Palm Sunday service, which happened to be the closest Sunday to Earth Day. People brought dogs, guinea pigs, cats, an alpaca, snakes, etc, to church “to be blessed.” Meanwhile there are hundreds of children within five miles of the church who need its help and blessings.

--“Reality” TelevisionKeeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, ad nauseum.

--Political Correctness – Really just another way to force-feed a liberal view of “correct politics.”

--Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, KS.

--Another Megachurch Building Campaign – Do we really need another multi-million dollar complex duplicating similar facilities across town?

--More Enormous New Professional Sports Stadiums, tearing down still useable older facilities – ala megachurches.

--Celebrities.

--Wrestlemania and Professional Wrestling.

I’m not suggesting all these things are “bad” or that there’s no redeeming social value in any of them. It’s just that by comparison to other issues the world faces—human trafficking, wars, budget crises, unemployment, hunger, poverty—these things seem superfluous and a waste of time and money.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at  www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.