I heard a lot today about annoying children. I thought a lot today about annoying grownups. There seems to be a rash of boorish behavior going on lately, for at least the last decade or so, and it’s not getting better. I think it is a case of the pendulum swinging too far – of individuality and the rights of individuals counting for more than the rights of the group – and that is wrong thinking.
I believe everyone can agree that someone shouting FIRE in a crowded room is unethical – people are going to be hurt. You don’t have the freedom to hurt others. But what about a kid who chooses to misbehave in a classroom of other children? That kid has disrupted the learning environment not only for him/herself and the teacher, but also for every other child in the room. That is unethical behavior. Every person loses learning time. Nobody gets time back that is lost.
What about the kid who is making a ruckus in the restaurant? Every other patron of that restaurant is disturbed by that one kid, and that is unethical. Nobody is less important than the kid – in fact, most of the adults there are probably more important, and their peaceful meal certainly is. Mom or dad needs to get up and take Junior outside for a walk. Whether the walk involves some discipline is up to them – but out the varmint goes. It may take a few times before Junior learns. Teach him. Teach her.
The same thing is true of adults. Your ringing cell phone in the theater is disrupting the experience that every single person in the theater paid to have – and YOU are not more important than everyone else: nobody is that important. Turn it off, sit down and shut up. Have respect for the other people. You would want them to respect you – respect them.