Isaiah 3:5 “The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable.”

What does a society of insolence and community oppression look like?  It looks like us!  It looks like a society of immature grasping children in adult bodies!

The Forerunner Commentary states: “Those trained in the home to dishonor parents will resist authority on every front, whether civic authorities, supervisors on the job, teachers in school, or coaches of a team. Self-centeredness stands at the foundation of this action. Those so created will pay little attention to honoring community standards because they do not respect them. Thus, they will not discipline themselves to submit to them. They always think that they know what is best for them—and for everybody else too. They will follow whatever impulse drives them, regardless of how it affects others.”

What was Isaiah’s society like? The Bible Fellowship Union website writes; “His ministry begins at a time when Israel had forsaken God and placed their confidence in worldly prosperity, warlike resources, superstition and idolatry. Middle-class luxury, oppression of the poor by wealthy merchants and tradesmen, wantonness of women, excess in festive drinking and perversion of moral distinctions, abounded on every hand.”  Sounds so familiar and so like our times.  Isaiah’s society like ours had become ‘uncivil’.

Even from a purely secular approach civility is considered a very important binding thread that holds society together.  Psychology Today describes what happens in its absence;

In upstate New York this week, a 68-year old bus monitor Karen Klein was called fat and ugly. Laced with profanity and cruel insults, four middle-school boys brought the woman to tears in one of the worst child-adult bullying incidents ever caught on videotape. Watched more than 4 million times on YouTube, many of the online comments were as uncivil as the video itself. The foundational virtue of citizenship, civility is behavior that recognizes the humanity of others, allowing us to live peacefully together in neighborhoods and communities. The psychological elements of civility include awareness, self-control, empathy, and respect. If we believe that all human beings “are created equal” and have worth, then civility is an obligation to act in ways that honor that belief. It requires us to treat others with decency, regardless of our differences. It demands restraint and an ability to put the interests of the common good above self-interests.

Teaching Civility in an F-Word Society, Published on June 23, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D. in The Moment of Youth

Why are kids so nasty?  Because we are so nasty!  They learn it from us.  Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D. puts the responsibility for the decline of civility squarely on us as parents and role models;

Today, name-calling and vulgarity fill the halls of Congress, negative political ads attack character over substance, and reality show television encourages self-regard over the common good. Shows like “The Apprentice” and “Survivor” highlight back-stabbing behavior as admirable and winning qualities. With the advent of cable news, we can choose the network that suits our political beliefs, only hearing one side of the debate. In short, children are exposed to rudeness, vulgarity, and violence that would be unthinkable in previous generations.

Do we really need to ask ourselves where children learn civility? Children model adult behavior on television and in real life. And they replicate language they learn online. It is not uncommon to hear “F_ _ _ You” spoken by children just learning to talk. That’s because children are systemically connected to everything around them. The world is their learning environment. We are their teachers.

In a world where no one believes they are accountable for their actions as long as they are not doing anything ‘illegal’, the ‘me-first’ attitude takes root.   So often, in our society, is seems as if the only wrong thing a person can do is get caught.  And the worst thing of getting caught comes true very often in our mass media culture. Time and time again the hidden scandals of prominent figures come to light, shocking all.  Moral panic is on the rise. Moral panic doesn’t solve anything but generates a lot of hysteria and the illusion that something is being done about a shocking situation.

Yet moral panic is ineffective because it has no center – no bedrock of truth  on which to leverage real changes in people.  The Bible tells us clearly;

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

But who reads the Bible anymore and who would believe it?