The Civil Shepherd

GSTAAD—Who was it who said good manners had gone the way of black-and-white TV? Actually it was yours truly after watching the slobs parading up and down Gstaad’s main street. That was last year, but the bad news is that this year Slobbovia has come to stay. Mind you, Alexandra and I had planned to have fifty friends for a party to celebrate the fifty years of my enslavement, but Mister Omicron arrived and put a damper on our plans. The tent on the lawn and the oompah band were canceled, and the New Year’s Eve blast turned into a smallish affair. The good news is that there are still a few people who don’t adhere to the online culture of today, that of anger, incivility, and nonstop use of the F-word.

“Looking around, even here in peaceful Helvetia, it seems as if many visiting people are just itching with pent-up rage.”

For example: This week I received two thank-you letters from two old Lawrenceville schoolboys who attended my Christmas party in the Bagel. Mark and Andrew are tall and good-looking, and obviously were brought up the right way because in today’s culture a thank-you letter is as rare as a virgin in Las Vegas. Mark and Andrew had just arrived when John Paulson walked in with his really beautiful girlfriend. The Lawrenceville boys encircled her like Panzers approaching Dunkirk. John and I used to hang out every night together in old Au Bar times. Then we sort of lost touch and he bet against the prime in 2008 and made 20 billion big ones. Yep, 20 billion and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Needless to say, lots of Bagelites now seek his company, but John Paulson has remained cool and the way he was before he made his billions. Most people at my party had no idea who he was, and that suited him fine.

Late on New Year’s Eve here in the Alps, Geoffrey Moore, his brother Christian, and Christian’s beautiful wife Lara dropped in and I had an early-morning chat with Lara, whose dad, incidentally, is a wonderful man and reads us. Unlike me, the Moore boys are not down on Gstaad by a long shot. I brought up the fact that a major Mexican narco’s son has installed himself in the village and has been dispensing gifts to all and sundry. “Your dad James Bond went after such folk,” said I. “The story is bulls—,” said Geoffrey. All I know is that a ticket controller on a ski lift received a gold Rolex for assisting the Mexican to get on it, and a female estate agent got much more than that for finding him a rather nice place to live. But then the Mexican, who openly prefers boys to girls, has been spreading the wealth, something that works exceedingly well in Switzerland. If he is the one I’m thinking of, I met him while very drunk later that night at a friend’s house. He was big and, believe it or not, blond, and giving orders. I was in an aggressive mood, which I never am when pissed, and he sort of backed off after I tried to pick a fight. One thing that emerged from the altercation that never happened was that rudeness is on the rise.

Looking around, even here in peaceful Helvetia, it seems as if many visiting people are just itching with pent-up rage, so how does one respond to a world and a culture without civility? When I was a child manners were as important as morals, in fact they mattered more. In America today incivility and rudeness are a way of life, despite all that “have a good day” bull. Being rude nowadays is almost considered by some as an expression of truth, with women being aggressive or bragging about being lesbian the way crude men used to boast about having bedded women.

Basically it’s a lack of shame as well as of dignity. Ever since Socrates, the meaning of accepted values has been questioned by good minds, but the woke fascism of today threatens the very meaning of historical facts. Instead of learning about history and our past, today’s youth are taught about the sensitivities of the tiniest minorities who determine the reality of the many.

There is a theory that students develop a greater capacity for empathy of others by reading fiction rather than taking science courses. I agree with this, but I am in the minority. I believe that taking literature courses makes a young mind more humane, whereas science makes one more robotic with less moral insight. The majority thinks science has improved the world in a way no other branch of knowledge could. That is undeniably true, and yet science studies have led to Facebook and Twitter and the internet, plagues that almost erase the medical strides.

What do literature and scientific courses in school have to do with the rudeness I’m complaining about? Everything. I can’t see a person who has read the Western canon being a slob and rude, whereas I can easily picture someone who spends his time looking at a computer turning into an antisocial freak, like Dorsey and Zuckerberg. I know, I know, it’s a stretch, but then Professor Taki is known for his prejudices more than for literature’s bottom line.

Just as what I’ve just written makes little sense, so does the fact that people are getting ruder by the minute, even in this once-upon-a-time peaceful village for the wellborn but also for the well-behaved. See you in class.

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