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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: The decay of civilization

Published: February 1, 2008
Section: Opinions

I once heard an interesting quote that attempted to give evidence of when our civilization was deteriorating. The quote went something like “the deterioration of civilization can be seen when people lose their manners and public restrooms are dirty.” When you first hear this statement, you may think it ridiculous, and only analyze the superficial humor in the expression. But I seriously think that these two conditions can indicate when our society has begun to decline. I am also sad to say that my experience at Brandeis has showed me that our civilization is certainly deteriorating. Our university, like many other places, has disgusting public facilities and this is largely due to our own actions. In addition, I have seen the effects of people losing their manners and this attitude also leads me to have a pessimistic outlook about our generation.

Why would this quote include a part concerning the condition of public restrooms? I think it has something to do with the fact that cleanliness in public restrooms only requires the smallest amount of consideration and courtesy. How hard it is to make sure that paper towels are properly thrown away? How difficult is it to appropriately use the facilities and ensure that the area is clean for the next user? Brandeis has shown me the utter disrespect and almost cruelty that people can demonstrate in using public restrooms. Although the facilities staff does a good job cleaning the restrooms, all the toilets, especially in the residence halls are in wretched conditions. Each venture to the bathroom makes me feel like I’m Indiana Jones as I avoid disgusting scenes and minimize my stay in the area. Not following proper etiquette in the bathroom is irrational and wrong. Making public facilities unclean shows disrespect and selfishness that I can not possibly imagine. It demonstrates unbelievable disregard and yes, can indicate the decay if our civilization.

I am constantly amazed at how much people have lost their common courtesy. I can’t travel on an airplane without seeing a frustrated passenger rudely address one of the flight attendants. I can’t go out for dinner at a restaurant without witnessing a customer conveying his choleric personality toward the serving staff. These sights are abhorrent and give me a pessimistic view of humanity. Unfortunately, my time here at Brandeis has also showed me that manners have taken a backseat to efficiency and impatience. I typically see people being rude to professors. Some actually use expletives when talking to them and others nosily debate their grades. As a CA, I have been purvey to a number of incidents involving impoliteness. Someone even once shouted “penis” at me when I courteously asked them to be quiet at 2 in the morning. In addition, dealing with bossy parents has been an even more unpleasant experience. My time at this university has further shown me the manifestation of this unique quote.

It seems so easy to be nice to one another, so easy to be considerate and kind. When we lose these characteristics, our civilization must be in decline. And I am sorry to say that my experiences throughout my life, and at Brandeis, have shown me the sorry state of humanity. People show no consideration when in public restrooms which demonstrates unbelievable selfishness. Many have lost their manners and this lack of consideration is saddening. The author of the quote was right, and the evidence that our civilization is in decline is all around us. I only wish the person could have seen the restroom of Cable 1 last year, because the author would have thought the apocalypse already upon us.