What is common decency? Well truth be told, the idea of common decency is rather simple. Common decency can be defined as casual, and everyday respect towards friends, peers, and basically anyone you may have interaction with throughout the day. This could even mean someone you don’t know personally, like a stranger on the street.
Take for instance you’re exiting your local cafe in the morning after picking up your daily cup of joe. As you’re leaving, you see someone else behind with their hands full of cups. As a person with common decency, you would hold open the door until that other person is able to pass. With gratitude, they would thank you and you could go along with your day knowing you did a kind deed.
This illustrates the idea of manners, respect, and basic kindness to people in your community. Common decency can be replicated in more significant and important contexts, with the universal understanding that we are all “co-humans” to our same world.
Here’s another example of common decency that we can better apply to the context of our current society. The coronavirus has been an invisible killer all over our world for over half a year now. This disease has definitely impacted most of our lives, in one way or another, whether it is switching to remote learning as a student, not being able to go outside, or knowing or being someone who has experienced this disease first hand. Feeling unsteady and losing a sense of security, both health-wise and financially, is considered typical for almost all during this time.
The disease is an invisible force that we don’t have the ability to reckon with yet. But we can definitely help return to our regular lives sooner by simply wearing a mask or a homemade cloth covering, a simple practice that can reduce COVID-19 transmissions drastically, according to the CDC.
In the state of New York, initially one of the most heavily coronavirus hit states in the country, mask wearing was mandated by Governor Cuomo on April 17. Since then, data from the New York Times shows that New York is past the peak of virus cases.
States that only suggested that residents should wear a mask and didn’t necessarily mandate it suffered a dramatic spike in confirmed cases after those states began to slowly reopen. In July 2020 Arizona experienced a huge surge in confirmed cases, as reported by CBS News. It was one of the last places to shut down and the first to reopen. Some decided not to wear a mask because they find it rather uncomfortable or they didn’t really care if they caught the virus.
The problem with that choice, though, is that masks aren’t only for protecting yourself from catching COVID-19; they’re actually more effective in keeping you from spreading it to others, in case you are infected but still asymptomatic. This disease isn’t something that is only happening to you personally, but is happening to everyone in your community, in your country, and on your planet. It is selfish to say that you aren’t comfortable with wearing a mask when you can be unknowingly transmitting the virus to someone at risk of extreme complications with the disease, possibly causing them death.
In short, wearing a mask is an act of common decency on much higher stakes, and it is important to understand that this practice isn’t just for the benefit of yourself but more so for the people around you.
As if the coronavirus wasn’t enough for humanity to deal with, there is another pandemic that has been ongoing for the past few centuries: racism. Scientists will eventually find a cure and vaccine for COVID-19, but there is no certainty of finding a cure for racism in our nation yet.
Police brutality towards African Americans has been a true recurring issue in our country. 164 African Americans have lost their lives because of police brutality this year alone, according to CBS News.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Botham Jean. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Eric Garner. Tanisha Anderson. Elijah McClain.
These are only 10 of the many Black American lives lost due to what can be referred to as modern day lynchings.
The way George Floyd’s killing was filmed so up close and personal gave no room for any doubt of the brutal racism in our society, which brought to light and reminded many of the severity of racism in our nation. More importantly, people were able to realize how little progress has been made in this country since the Civil Rights Movement.
Patrisse Cullors, one of the co-founders of the BLM Movement states in an interview with PBS: Black Lives Matter: Campaigning for Racial Justice, “The reason why we want to call it a human rights movement is because that’s international in scope.” BLM is a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement, but on a more global level. It is beyond just a movement against police brutality, but instead an anti-Black racism movement. Black people are global, and therefore so is this movement.
For the first time, the Black Lives Matter Movement has truly been a focal point in our society. From comprehending the size of this movement, you can understand that much of what is driving this fight has to do with the optimism people have towards enacting real change towards racial injustice in our country. Unfortunately it took George Floyd’s public killing to spark the understanding for some people outside of the Black American community that this can no longer be accepted and ignored.
Being a person with common decency means that you are responsible for supporting your community whether or not it will benefit you personally. Thus, a way to help stop the pandemic of racism is for everyone to incorporate this understanding in their own lives, at work or at home.
Just because it may not affect you directly does not mean that you can simply sit back and do nothing. The fact that people of all backgrounds and creeds are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is already impacting this situation greatly. There won’t be any progress or success unless this is a collaborative movement, requiring efforts from everyone.
Treating people with equal respect and kindness should be expressed towards people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities.
Again, common decency can be defined as casual and everyday respect towards fellow human beings. Treating your peers and the rest of your community as co-humans to the same world is a simple understanding that should be easily practiced by everyone.
Holding the door for another person is the same common decency as wearing a mask to protect your community, which is the same common decency as treating all humans with the same respect. Being kind is not a debate or a political position. It is being human and humane.