Skip to content

No sleeping donkeys in the bathtub

Is there hope we can save ourselves?
shelley column pic
Tirades and tantrums no more

Those who like to travel are well served to familiarize themselves with the laws of the land they visit, however there are some regulations on the books around the world that might cause a raised eyebrow or two.

In Milan, Italy it is a requirement to smile at all times, unless you are at a funeral or the hospital. In Samoa it is illegal to forget your wife’s birthday, while in Scotland if anyone passing by your house asks to use your bathroom, you cannot, by law, refuse them.

There are also some rather strange laws south of the 49th. It is against the law in Arizona to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7:00 pm, and there can be no whaling allowed in the landlocked state of Oklahoma. Karaoke fans take note, in North Carolina you are not allowed to sing off key.

Lest we think these bizarre regulations exist only elsewhere, we have some strange laws on the books in Canada, too. It is illegal to drag a dead horse down Yonge Street in Toronto on a Sunday, and it is against the law to bring llamas in to any national park. Canadians in central Canada should note that according to a municipal code you may not hold more than two garage sales a year. Also, (and this law is one I can get behind), you may not remove an old bandage anywhere in public including parks or sidewalks.

There are all kinds of rules that remain in place despite not having any need for them anymore. Since they aren’t impacting anyone where they exist, there is little necessity to worry too much about them. There are other things going by the wayside however, that I think we should very much regret.

For years now people have reported frustration at the increasing numbers of invitees ignoring RSVPs. Without declared intent on the part of invited guests it is hard to finalize details and budget. Percentages of those not making the effort to RSVP is disappointing and unfortunate.

It was once considered bad form to brag or show off. You made no friends by boasting. Wow, that’s been turned upside down, hasn’t it? Humility is becoming an ever-rare trait as we witness a culture chasing after attention, notoriety and influence.

Of course, the tool wielded in that pursuit is the ubiquitous iPhone that may as well be surgically attached to some. They are never without it. Once was the feeling that a phone call at meal time was considered rude and certainly not to be answered. Today no shared meal, coffee klatch or gathering goes uninterrupted by someone’s phone. Few ignore their phone, but instead attend to it rather than the people sitting across the table from them

Then there is the utter disdain many hold toward those who disagree with them on any issue. There’s little room any longer for discussion, debate…or even, conversation. I heard a social activist interrupt someone by saying she was going to cut him off before he embarrassed himself. Really? Strong stances are important, but we are no longer agents of change when we treat others as adversaries.

But really it’s just part of the regrettable descent where we have allowed tirades, tantrums and vicious vitriol to replace civility in interaction. It’s not just politicians, celebrities, athletes or activists, either. It’s all those who claim a right to say whatever they want whenever they want.

But, dare we imagine there may be hope for change? Early indicators suggest that since returning to bigger events and family gatherings following many months of restrictions, people are not only making a greater effort to attend, but also to respond with their intentions. Perhaps careless habits can be relearned.

We can also take heart that there are those trying to model behavior that demonstrates people are more important than phones. As 36-year-old mom Dulcie Cowling in the United Kingdom stated after seeing every parent in the park sitting on their phone, "I thought 'when did this happen?'. Everyone is missing out on real life.” She represents those earnestly trying to change their habits.

As for civility between people? Well, we all have a role in that. It starts with how we deal with one another in our little corner of the world. It includes use of words that encourage, our refusal to gossip, and most of all our efforts to listen more than we speak.

While it may not be detrimental to say goodbye to some rather archaic laws, the same can’t be said of what else we let go by the wayside. Every step taken to reverse the course is a step in the right direction. That’s my outlook.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks