Two weeks ago I wrote an article entitled, “Sick and Tired of Bad Behaviour”. 

I received quite a bit of feedback as I travelled throughout the community from persons expressing how much they agreed with what I had written. Many shared their own personal stories of rudeness they had experienced. Interestingly, most felt that when the respective persons were approached on their bad conduct, the response was not well received. Quite frankly, I believe that rude people are far too rude to even begin to fathom that their behaviour as seen by others is unacceptable. Sadly, the only thing that might effectively humble a rude person is the reality check of a bad situation happening to them.  

One of the most heart wrenching reviews of the article came from a lady who called my house and left a voice message. She is a lady I have never met or heard of.  She spoke of the stress she is under daily from her neighbours — the loud noise, the congregating and the cursing.  

She spoke of the headaches she has regularly and her general feeling of unwellness as a result of the bad behaviour she is subjected to on a daily basis.   

I tried calling her back but to no avail.  But I haven’t stopped thinking about her and thinking about how neighbourhoods used to be long ago — cohesive and cordial. How could neighbours be so rude? What gives neighbours the right to make another’s living so unpleasant?  And even more, why don’t other neighbours step in to stamp out the bad behaviour going on right outside their doors? Has everyone just resorted to staying indoors with doors and windows shut and locked? Has everyone just become too afraid to approach others when necessary?

It matters not that the lady caller is white and speaks with a foreign accent.  She is human. We must all do better to treat people as such. 

We have become a society who speaks of intolerance of bad behaviour while sending a clear message of acceptance by doing nothing about it. I personally have low tolerance for talk when action must be taken, especially where others are impacted by inappropriateness. 

Complainers

Yet I am all too familiar with the fact that those who speak out are often labelled as complainers or as people who carry themselves in a holier than thou manner. If we don’t put our feet down and stamp out this increasingly bad behaviour now, we will soon have an island running amok with people who are uncontrollable. Are we seeing signs of that now?  

Bill Gates said, “We’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behaviour.” And sadly, this is true. But are we getting great return on our investment or could that money be better spent elsewhere? 

At what point do we face the painful task of addressing bad behaviour from the very root of its causes so that we are not throwing money at surface matters?  I leave you with this thought: what are you doing to intervene and assist in the decline in conduct with those you encounter on a regular basis? What are you doing about your own conduct? Let’s take to heart the words of our elders — brief, direct, but full of meaning: Behave yourself! 

Shawnette Somner is a mother and an educator. E-mail ss911@myhome.bm