It seems as if our society is on the threshold of decay.  That is an awful opening sentence, but there are numerous indications that it is true.  Differences of opinion are to be cherished, but this expression never crept into our psyche and functioning as a society to the extent it has right now.  Expression and even bold argument had always been part of our culture – debate was a way of presenting what we knew and/or believed in an effort to gain support or stimulate thought, but it had never spiraled into hate and negative action as it is today.  The extent to which it is occurring and growing is a new phenomenon for all of us; and it is frightening to say the least.

This unrest and lack of reason has crept into every corner of our existence – separating family members, neighbors, organization members, schools, and the American workforce.  When consideration of whom we might interact with is determined by beliefs that are based on fiction or fact, then we have a disease that will grow with reckless abandon. 

Civility, or politeness as our parents and grandparents would have proclaimed, is an essential ingredient in life.  Respectfulness is something that was engrained into our being from an early age and was a cardinal rule.  We can have our opinions, but they should never interfere with treating others the way that you would like to be treated.  Where has civility gone?  The positions, people, and systems that were always respected by our ancestors are now constantly attacked or demeaned.  Pick an example – there are many: doctors, business leaders, teachers, police, fire fighters, entrepreneurs – they are no longer held up as role models, they are blamed for the woes of a community.  Of course, there are examples where this mistrust and ire are well-founded, but why are the majority painted with the same brush?  In restaurants, the chef who was quite recently held up with admiration and respect is now often dismissed and criticized for his or her passion and work ethic.

There were always cooks who would call out sick on occasion, but the thought of simply not showing up – that was just not something that we did.  Sure, work scheduling needs to change, and life-balance must be addressed – but to show your dislike for a schedule by not showing up and putting extra stress on your teammates was just not done.  This is disrespectful and not worthy of the uniform that you wear.  If change does not come and you are unhappy, then give your notice and look elsewhere.  There are plenty of restaurants looking for talented cooks – maybe your ideal job is somewhere else.

Kindness, being considerate and empathetic were traits that always stood out, and to a large degree were the common traits of Americans in the eyes of the world.  I grew up in kitchens where equality was always evident, where we might have critiqued and poked fun, but never with malice or ill-intent.  We may have raised our voices on occasion but would always “have the back” of the person next to us.  Where has this environment gone?  Bullying is not something that we want to encourage whether it be in schools or on-the-job.  The lack of kindness that occurs in our society has grown exponentially with the availability of social media.  It is hurtful and destructive, un-called for and cancerous in an organization.  Yet, it occurs at an alarming rate and is far too often ignored in so many environments.  How hard is it to be kind?  Where is the thrill in making someone else feel insignificant?

I remember how important it was to my family to be law abiding.  Order is something that helps a civilization function.  We have laws to protect members of a society and if the laws are deemed unfair, then we have the right to choose different representatives and work to change them.  In the meantime, we follow the laws or suffer the consequences.  I have watched in horror as mobs break into stores and steal merchandise, terrorize employees and customers, and do so without any consideration of the harm being done, or the laws that are designed to protect.  I shake my head when I watch citizens and some law enforcement officials ignore or manipulate the law to justify their hate or misunderstanding.  I cringe when those in the retail business refer to theft in their stores as “shrink” (an anticipated and accepted about of theft) that they are unable to control, but instead pass on the cost to law abiding citizens.  And I shake my head when items disappear from coolers and storerooms in restaurants where I have worked – knowing that it may have been the person that I worked next to who was responsible.

What type of society do we have if even those elected to represent us ignore the law and/or manipulate it for personal gain?  Why is it less important to be law abiding today?

There is a problem in our country that is growing by the day, it is a problem that must be addressed, cannot be ignored, must not be accepted, and will only continue to eat away at everything that our communities were built on.  The problem must be addressed by everyone and cannot simply be relegated to law enforcement and legal battles over “hostile work environments”, or discrimination lawsuits.  It is OUR problem to solve.  It must be addressed in the home by parents who take the time to reflect on past generations attitudes.  It must be addressed by business owners and managers – not just by writing an employee manual, but more importantly through their actions as leaders.  It must be addressed by local, regional, and national governments who need to focus on the root issues of building a society that is knowledgeable, civil, kind, law abiding, and professional.  It must be addressed by educators, the media, police, firefighters, chefs, clergy, and neighbors.  If left to fester and grow – this will destroy our country from within, destroy our restaurants and other businesses, eat away at the integrity of our educational system, and change the way the rest of the world views the American democratic experiment. 

We can fix this, but we cannot simply expect someone else to fix it for us.  We need to start today – where we are.  It is our challenge and our problem to solve.


Harvest America Ventures, LLC

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