SOMETIMES I THINK THE ONLY ADJECTIVE THAT REALLY MATTERS (WHERE PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED) IS ‘DECENT.’
My problem with the above statement – which I believe with a passion – is that I am far from sure I can do it adequate justice within the context of a blog. A blog should be a supplement to one’s working day; and not consume it. Of course, there are exceptions to this--if one is a professional blogger—but, for most of us, it is no more than a daily outreach, with the the main work of the day being something else entirely. That means, in effect, that there isn’t the time to to become too philosophical.
When I was a kid--and I’m now 68, so we are mostly talking the Forties and Fifties—when dinosaurs ruled the earth (I’m not quite sure when one stops being a kid) “decent” essentially meant being adequately dressed. The question: “Are you decent?” was constantly asked outside bedroom doors, and so on. It seemed to be mainly asked by aunts. Since my mother was an only child, and my father lost in the mists, “aunt” was an honorary title which I took at face value. Besides, I have never been particularly good at understanding relationships like: “First cousin once removed.” Good grief, my mind said. Life is too short for this. Though I seem to becoming increasingly fond of both my siblings and extended family as I age, I haven’t changed my mind about such complexities.
Later on, I seemed to have encountered the expression “decent” mostly in the context of death. I lived in Ireland in those days and the expression: “He was a decent man” was often uttered about the corpse. Strangely enough, I do not recall it being said about a woman, though I am reliably informed that women die too.
Dictionary definitions of “decent” vary, but miriam-webster.com comments: Conforming to standards of propriety, good taste, modesty etc. as in behavior or speech. The word ‘conforming’ appears frequently in other definitions of “decent.”
I see the word quite differently. To me, a “decent” individual is someone who is--regardless of superficial faults--essentially empathetic, kind, thoughtful, sympathetic, supportive, trustworthy, and blessed with integrity and a sense of humor. Do they have to conform to social norms? Absolutely not!
A sense of humor is an absolute must. Virtue, without humor, tends towards the intolerable.