By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Ours is a society that savors superlatives.
This is awards season, during which we honor the best of everything, from movies (the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, just to name a couple), to TV (the Golden Globes) to music (the Grammys).
Today the newest members of baseball’s Hall of Fame will be announced. Monday night, Alabama proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the very best college football team in the country.
We love to name the best of this or that — the best restaurant, the best diet, the best book, the best joke, the best gadget or the best photo.
The Internet brings us gems like the best cigar, the best open water swimmer, the best celebrity wedding, the best smartphone apps, the best cheap wine, the best video games, even the best tomato (a Spanish variety called Tomazur).
Heck, there’s even a website advertising “The Best Little Cathouse in Pennsylvania.” Not to worry, it is a hospice near Harrisburg for terminally ill felines.
Late last week, the American Dialect Society announced its 2012 “Word of the Year.” The winner is, “hashtag.”
Don’t be fooled, as I was, into thinking the word refers to the label on a package of corned beef hash. Instead, it refers to “The practice used on Twitter for marking topics or making commentary by means of a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase,” according to the American Dialect Society’s website.
Hashtag beat out a list of contenders including YOLO (the acronym for “You only live once,”) fiscal cliff, Gangnam Style, marriage equality and 47 percent.
In the interest of full disclosure, hashtag lost in the initial voting, but came from behind to defeat marriage equality in a runoff.
The words, or phrases, of the year do not have to be new, they just have to be notable or prominent in the previous year.
The society accepts nominations all year long.
I have an early suggestion for 2013’s word of the year. How about respect?
It’s certainly not a new word, nor a new concept. But it is one that has been neglected in recent years.
Just a glance at recent headlines emphasizes that.
During Monday night’s aforementioned Alabama rout of Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game, Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron and his center, Barrett Jones, got into a scuffle when Jones didn’t snap the ball when McCarron wanted him to, resulting in a delay of game penalty. Alabama was up 42-14 at the time.
Then there were NBA players Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Kevin Garnett of Boston, who got into a shoving match during Monday’s game.
Then, after the game, Anthony waited for Garnett outside the Celtics’ team bus, and they got into another dust-up.
Then there was conservative radio talk show host Alex Jones screaming at CNN’s Piers Morgan on the air over the TV host’s calls for tighter gun regulations.
In New York, two high school runners got into a brawl during a 4x400-meter relay heat.
In Texas, someone found a bag containing a 3-year-old male mixed breed dog that had been shot in the head and face with a pellet gun, stuffed in a garbage bag and left to die (thankfully, he survived).
It’s time to show a little respect, for our fellow man, for ourselves and for our animal friends.
It seems we have lost respect for each other, as evidenced by the recent spate of sporting fisticuffs, even between teammates.
We apparently have lost respect for the value of human life, judging by all the murders and violent incidents that seem to crop up in the news each and every day.
We don’t even respect ourselves, judging from the fact we smoke too much, weigh too much and don’t eat or drink the right things, not to mention the stuff we fill our minds with that passes for entertainment these days.
We don’t respect our elders, authority, even the law. And we have even lost respect for the lives of non-human creatures.
Animals, who are dependent on us for their care and feeding, are increasingly subject to abuse and abandonment.
We seem to have lost respect for the other person’s right to their own opinion, unless it happens to mesh perfectly with our own.
There is nothing wrong with debate and disagreement, but let’s keep it civil, shall we?
Jesus told us to “Love one another.” That’s a lofty goal, but likely unattainable. Even liking one another may be a stretch. But if we respect one another, and treat each other and ourselves with respect, that’s a start.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.