Are people rude because they are unhappy? Is rudeness like nakedness, a state deserving the tact and mercy of the clothed? If we are polite to rude people, perhaps we give them back their dignity; yet the obsessiveness of the rude presents certain challenges to the proponents of civilized behavior. It is an act of disinhibition: Like a narcotic, it offers a sensation of glorious release from jailers no one else can see.
From Rachel Cusk’s “The age of rudeness: As the social contract frays, what does it mean to be polite?” in The New York Times.
This is a thought-provoking article about rudeness and our failure to find a way to reckon with it politically. More specifically, how politeness instills a pattern of empathy even where one may not yet be capable of it. And so, it is also an article about regret, the failure of empathy, and a falling out with one’s parents.