Are We A Less Thoughtful Society

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Are we a less thoughtful, less civil society today than we used to be? Does the well-being of our neighbors matter little? Does our entertainment trump their peace of mind?

We would, unfortunately, have to answer that, “Yes, we are a less civilized society than we once were. We are much more self-absorbed, thoughtless individuals than existed a generation or two ago.”

It is surprising how much profanity we hear in public places these days. It doesn’t matter who is sitting at the next table – families with young children, a group of senior women out together, the minister from the local church, or “just plain old” folks from the community.

One of the common complaints you find in today’s City of Benson Police reports has to do with loud noise – music blaring away in someone’s house or apartment, or outside. Music thumping through the walls. Music blasting through the neighborhood.

We love the game of golf. It is a time away from the stress of work enjoying the day with friends. The golf course is a quite place – until the person with a radio blasting from their cart drives nearby.

Sitting at a lake on a beautiful summer’s day, relishing in the warmth, sun and water, is disturbed by the music blaring from a passing boat.

A car driving down the road, the bass so loud that its thump can be heard blocks away and, when it passes the street, it rattles your windows.

In all these cases of thoughtless entertainment of self over the impact to others in the community, society has a fix. Laws have been passed, rules set in place, to force people lacking the character to be considerate of others to turn the volume down.

It seems like there has been a rash of mufflers getting broken or lost in the community lately, or maybe have your vehicle rumble as loud as possible is a new fade. Well, there are laws for that, too, and the police will be stopping to tell you so. Chief Ian Hodge says that state law says the sound of your muffler can drown out the sound of your engine. If it does, you need a new muffler.

Of all the inconsiderate infractions forced on neighbors that take place in communities throughout America, it is barking dogs that police often receive the most calls about. What a waste of a law enforcement officer’s time to have to give a call to, or walk up to the door of, a dog owner who is too clueless to realize the his or her animal has been barking for 15 minutes straight. Or, the dog owner who tepidly tells his dog 10 times to be quiet with the dog giving the owner all the attention his inattention deserves.

The dog left outside that doesn’t bark for 15 minutes straight, but 30 times for short periods of times, is every bit as disturbing to your neighbors.

Wadena passed an ordinance that prohibits dogs in some parts of the community from barking or making noise from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. Of course, the dog owners went crazy about how impossible and unnecessary such a law was – but what drove the community to have to implement such a law?

Benson dog barking ordinance says, “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or harbor a dog who habitually barks or cries. Habitual barking shall be defined as barking for repeated intervals of at least three minutes with less than one minute of interruption. Such barking must also be audible off of the owner’s or caretaker’s premises.”

The ordinance further allows a police officer to enter a yard to remove a dog if there has been at least one previous barking complaint.

Why do communities pass laws dealing with barking dogs? Because the vast majority of residents of the community enjoy their peace and quiet, and don’t want to put up with people too thoughtless of others to deal with their barking dogs.

There was once a time when people took pride in the appearance of their lawns and homes. That is one more way in which communities seem to be slipping. One of the most obvious signs of this is the growing number of cars, campers, motor homes, and tractors, you’ll find parked in residential yards.

Summer evenings with a cool breeze blowing are an ideal time to be sitting outside enjoying talking with family, friends and neighbors. It is a great time to be sitting on a front porch reading a book. When you go to bed, that breeze through an open window feels wonderful – until the music starts thumping or blaring, or the dog starts barking.

Without a doubt, most people in the community are thoughtful and considerate of their neighbors. Music is played low in their apartments, or quietly outside so that the neighbors are forced to listen to it, and in their vehicles their music is play loud enough for them to enjoy, but not forced on the community within three blocks. The make sure their dogs to bark endlessly, or repeatedly, and they take care of their yards and homes.

If you happen to get a call from someone upset with your barking dog, loud music, or other nuisance that invades the space and peace of your neighbors, think about how much they put up with before getting the courage to call. It isn’t easy. We tolerate an immense amount annoyance and aggravation before being driven to call a neighbor, or the police.

When we live closely together in a community, it is essential that neighbors respect each other. That respect was a lot more common in the days when people spent their time outside in the evenings, and days, talking with each other. It was a time before television dominated so many people’s lives, before the internet and cellphones, shut people inside their homes away from their neighbors. Today, many have only a passing knowledge of who their neighbors are. This distance leads to be less concerned about what others think, as their world focuses on their own needs, wants and indulgences.

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