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Taken For Granted: Civility from a neighbor offers hope

December 10, 2011|By Pat Grant

The doorbell rang at about 7:30 one evening and our resident official greeter, Kody the wonder dog, made his usual sprint for the door.

As I stepped outside to avoid a 95-pound, tail-wagging greeting for our unsuspecting caller, I was met by an attractive young lady with a small gift bag and a great smile. She introduced herself as Natalie from across the street.

Handing me the gift bag, she said, “I just wanted to let you know that we will be having a party Friday night, and that if we get too loud, please don’t hesitate to let us know so we can turn down the music and the noise.”

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I was taken aback by the gesture. Gathering my wits, I took a guess that Natalie might be the same youngster who for many years I had heard practicing the piano, a pleasant contrast to the crude rap music that occasionally invaded the neighborhood.

My guess was right. She was about to celebrate her 16th birthday, a poised young adult personally concerned about possibly disturbing her neighbors. It was a measure of civility and friendliness, which I’m sad to say has become a rarity in our community, particularly among young adults.

More typical is my recent experience with the young driver of a new BMW who sat on my bumper impatiently flashing his lights because I was “inconsiderately” driving the 25 mph legal limit and making stops at each stop sign in the neighborhood.

He is the unfortunate image of Glendale youth, which I witness and hear about all too frequently. I struggle to avoid reaching the same crotchety conclusion my folks reached about my generation — that there was little hope.

But recent studies of the attitudes of college students reveal an increasing level of narcissism and a notably decreased level of empathy for other people. These tendencies first became noticeable in the 1980s.

Some blame video games, social media, reality TV and self-absorption.

These attitudes will cripple many young adults as they struggle to overcome the brutal challenges they face — an educational system that is largely broken, and which neither adequately prepares them for college nor realistically redirects their expectations toward the technical skill areas needed in our increasingly complex economy.

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