It’s too easy to make snide comments these days. To throw a disparaging remark into someone’s path. To toss a hand grenade of insult over the shield wall of “constructive criticism” and watch it explode from a safe distance.
The people that sow such barbs with impunity rarely seem to fear reprisals or even the possibility of being taken out by their own shrapnel. Of course, cowards that they are, they stand too far back. They stand fully enveloped in their Kevlar suits of “only being helpful”.
Don’t get me wrong. This post hasn’t been inspired by anyone or anything specific. People have taken so many pops at me and this blog recently I have got completely used to the detonations.
And it is that which has inspired this post.
You see, it’s too easy to take pot-shots these days. We all do it without thinking. We all do it as natural as breathing. Open our mouths, type something, and let the sting fly to its target. Bang. Gotcha. Onto the next one.
Why has abuse become such common currency?
The internet, the workplace, the press are all rife with it. Comedians take cheap shots at anyone who has fallen foul of the law or public morality just to get a laugh – people they have probably never met or had any personal dealings with. Our colleagues assassinate each other in whispering huddles that may or may not include you… and you are damned either way.
And this is just the way it is.
I find myself wondering if people were politer in (paradoxically) less enlightened times and places? In the Dark Ages, say? Or Mediaeval Europe? The Wild Wild West? Times when the common man went about armed and tooled up and ready to answer even the slightest insult with a red smile or an invasion of steel to the gut?
Did people watch their P’s and Q’s more? Dot their I’s and cross their T’s? Save their insults and barbs for under the breath mutterings that harmed no one and kept the water source from which we all drink free from poison and contagion?
Or did that length of steel at their side or that iron strapped round their waist make them feel they had the right to sneer even more? Make them feel they could say what the hell they liked and if the target didn’t like it, well, they could choose between swallowing it or sleeping the sleep you never wake from?
I suspect weaponry merely separated the truly arrogant from those who only pose. The true bastards from those merely trying to be. And at the end of the day too, there would have been polite, peacable men who kept their mastery of the martial arts under their hats until pushed to extremis. Maybe, sometimes, justice was done? Maybe for every insult made grosser with violence there was an insult met with a righteous meting out of pain that made some cocky loudmouth think twice before opening his mouth again?
I can’t work out which is better or which is worse.
Only that while sticks and stones may break my bones, a bullet to someone’s crust is going to shut them up forever. In which case, insults suddenly become completely unnecessary.