In Praise of Civility

Civility Is Appreciated!

Happy Dinner With Grandkids! photo by Glenda Clemens, 2016

Happy Dinner With Grandkids!
photo by Glenda Clemens, 2016

“She couldn’t survey the wreck of the world
with an air of casual unconcern.”
― Margaret MitchellGone with the Wind

I have always felt that being nice to each other created an air of civility that made a space for us to be more agreeable and more pleasing to be around. This starts with simple manners like saying “please” and “thank you” and “may I be excused”. In the big picture of life however civility makes it possible to discuss difficult issues without becoming mean or rude or hateful.

“I believe in civility.
But it is not a requirement of civility
to pretend there is no war.”
― J. BudziszewskiWhat We Can’t Not Know: A Guide

We are in the middle of tumultuous times both in our country and around the world. It seems to me that we may have thrown the baby out with the bath water: we have decided it is OK to call each other names and shout ugly rhetoric because we know that we are right and everyone else is wrong. We are willing to accept the telling of lies about important people and important ideas in order to win. Some actually have accused civility of being political correctness. Even though civility is part of political correctness it isn’t in and of itself political correctness. Civility is a way of behaving in society so that we can discuss ideas, feelings and beliefs without always agreeing. It is what keeps us from killing each other. Civility is defined by Webster as “polite, reasonable and respectful behavior”.

“To work best democracy needs a diversity
of thoughts, ideas and expression.
This is only possible with freedom and civility.”
― Kevin Stirtz

For me, the hope is, that we will continue to agree or disagree without debasing ourselves or each other. There doesn’t have to be a division among reasonable, polite and respectful people. This includes name calling! Calling our President Obummer, or the Democratic nominee Crooked Hillary, or the Republican nominee Trumpster are not examples of civil behavior. We have all been guilty of incivility. I’m suggesting that we give civility a try. I’m going to try it whether you will or not.

“People who cannot restrain their own baser instincts,
who cannot treat one another with civility,
are not capable of self-government…
without virtue, a society
can be ruled only by fear,
a truth that tyrants understand all too well”
― Charles W. ColsonHow Now Shall We Live?

Of course if being unreasonable, rude and disrespectful is your way of dealing with politics, please talk to someone else.

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