Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scruffy Look Defines American Society

Scruffy Look Defines American Society
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Either you have a beard – or you need a shave.  A three or four day growth of stubble on a healthy man’s face and chin denotes pure laziness, slovenliness, shiftlessness, and it just screams to the world:  “ I just don’t give a damn!”

In the spirit of full disclosure – I have a beard and mustache patterned after a beard popular in the 1860’s South (The Confederate South to be exact.)  It is an open secret that I have great admiration for men of that era.  They were men of integrity, boldness, bravery, and pride.  They took great pains to look their best while taking into consideration the degree of intensity their masculine countenance might exude.  Being handsome (or NOT) was, of course, either a blessing or a curse. However, being acceptable in polite society of the day demanded a man look his best -- and that meant that one was either clean-shaven or had a nearly trimmed beard and/or mustache.

Maintaining one’s self in a presentable manner was not easy. Especially when you consider the most efficient razor of that era was the straight razor.  It was a deadly instrument – dangerous when sharp or dull.

But, considering all that, they were fastidious in their appearance, which included a daily shave, administered either by one’s self or a trusted accomplice.   The more well off would pay a barber to shave them.

A man with an unshaven scraggly beard was usually a bum or an outcast, living on the margins of society.

The point, in my opinion, is that men used to take pride in their appearance. And it spoke volumes to those around him as to what kind of man he was/is.

In my opinion, it is not so much the amount of facial hair on one’s cheeks, jowls, and chin, as it is the manner in which one tends it.

Of course, there are religions that require the untrimmed beard and some require hair that is left uncut.  The practitioners of those religions are outside the scope of these comments.  That is between them and their god and I have no say in it, nor do I wish to have any say in their religious practices.

But – MOST American men do not adhere to such religious dogma and it is to them I say, “for heaven’s sake man, clean yourself up!”

This fad -- and that is what it is – a fad, is having an effect on American society and even on the American economy.  It is seen as a reflection of the careless attitude of the American worker.  To others it says -- Americans don’t take pride in themselves. So that MUST mean they don’t take pride in their work or their products.

I began my career in business as a door-to-door coffee salesman.  I received two dollars for every customer I signed up and the customer had some of the finest coffee in America, at the time, delivered right to their door every week.  It was a grand experience for a young man on how to interact with the public.

One of the very first things I learned about selling anything was that first -- I had to sell myself.

It would seem that Americans have forgotten that a good impression of one’s self is a vital part of getting along and living well.  The impression others have of another person is embedded in their minds forever.

But Americans seem no longer to care -- and it shows.  Mediocrity is the norm in America today.

I heard a TV commentator say, just the other day, that American’s kids in public schools dress as if they were gangsters and prostitutes.  He was spot on.  I disagree with that particular commentator 99% of the time, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  On that day HE WAS RIGHT!

How a child dresses in school reflects the values of the family he comes from.  It has been my experience that the manner in which one dresses and carries himself/herself will, over time, have a deep effect on that person’s character and personality – and that will lead to low self esteem, depression, and the “I don’t give a darn” attitude that so permeates the American society today.

It is a formula for failure as a person -- and as a nation.

All of the above is what I see when I gaze upon the “scruffy” visage of an American male today.

If America has any chance of again climbing to it’s God-given perch as the greatest nation in the world, then it MUST take a look at itself – in a mirror – and clean itself up.  I truly believe that if we look like losers we will think like losers and, therefore, we will become losers.

Shaping a future America begins in the home.  Parents should see to it that their school children dress like young American men and women and not like the dregs of society before they are allowed to leave the house.  Mom and Dad must set the example.

America was once a proud nation.  The pride of its people made it a nation of proud achievers and it set the standard for the remainder of the world to strive for.

America can do it again.  But first we need to shave and clean ourselves up as a people and as a nation.

J. D. Longstreet

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