As society evolves, different phenomena display themselves, some of which are beneficial, some harmful, etc, and some which are amusing, depending on the viewpoint.
A recent phenomenon is the hippopotomouth (hippopotamus mouth!) which can be found almost anywhere. We see athletes exhibiting the h-mouth if a good point is scored, a wicket taken, a top product (or one claiming to be ‘top’) is hailed in an advertisement or a race won, among several manifestations. It would have seemed obvious that walking, running, standing around, etc, with the mouth at full stretch constitutes repulsive behaviour. Times change people’s perceptions as to what constitutes decency and acceptable behaviour; I recall that in my young days if you opened your mouth too widely you would be warned that a fly may enter it. The hippopotomouth is generally accompanied by a scream/shout/screech, etc. Remember that old saying? ‘Quiet speech is a mark of…’
Lest a reader may suspect that I am old-fashioned, be assured that I am that. I also believe that ‘old-fashioned’ characteristics of decency, morality, etc, do not evolve with time, except to deteriorate and the h-mouth is a glaring example of why not. Lest my modernist brother conclude that my stance is helplessly old-fashioned, I point out that this kind of behaviour has many levels of prices, some of them stunningly high. An example of the last is where a man who, as a result of a screech through an h-mouth, lost what appeared to be a very viable chance to become President of the United States of America, which is arguably the most powerful post in the world. (Remember. So if you thumb your nose at old-fashioned me, I say I am sorry for you.)
And if you think that is the only example I can quote, you are wrong. How about eight hundred thousand teenage pregnancies for the USA for 2008? Or was it nine hundred thousand? (So what is the difference between friends of a hundred thousand teenage pregnancies or so for a year for the USA?) Look at some of the TV programmes involving American teenagers and you will find the h-mouth, and the screech. Please excuse me for appearing to target the USA. I use the USA illustratively because they are such an open society, and information concerning them is so easily and readily available.
Decency is old-fashioned, and ignoring it can possibly cause profound changes. With the Americans and the Europeans in the forefront of advocating homosexuality to be a norm and legislating to give effect to that (example: Don’t ask. Don’t tell), same-sex marriages are a logical outcome. When the USA Supreme Court sits later this year on this subject, I have no doubt that it will legalise homosexuality, and when it does, look out for the consequences that will almost certainly descend upon them.
Every human being can look at the society in which he/she lives and try to draw conclusions by which we may guide our lives. But decency is a topic to be explored further. As a first step can we please discard the h-mouth?
Mujtaba Ahmad Nasir