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Vol 13|No 5|June |2017

What good is civility?

by Jamie McKenzie (about author)

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In the USA today we hear more shouting, more shaming and more insults than ever before. This trend is especially noticeable on social media, but there are commentators and political leaders from many points of view who have taken off the gloves.

While searching for viewers, for ratings and for voters, too many have left civility behind and employed every possible verbal cudgel to attack the other side and whip followers into an ugly mood.

What good is civility?

Civility:
courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, graciousness, consideration, respect

When a gunman takes aim at a group of Congressional baseball players, we see the wages of sin. Terror, it seems, can be home grown, as we witnessed in the Oklahoma City bombing. It can come from the Left. It can come from the Right. Whether the encouragement comes from a radical Islamic hate preacher or a domestic political hate preacher, the consequences may be similar.

Fanning Tempers

When leaders and commentators consciously fan the anger of their followers, readers and viewers, they are playing a dangerous and divisive game. This game may pay dividends in the short run, but as Lincoln put it many years ago, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

The day after the near massacre of Republicans on the baseball field in congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, the President and other national leaders adopted a nonpartisan tone.

As The New York Times reported:

But for once, such party labels were not the defining trait. Badly shaken members of Congress — both Democratic and Republican — were united in concern for those wounded and in shock at the events as they assessed where the nation’s increasingly harsh political climate had led them: an early-morning playing field sprayed with gunshots that could have killed dozens of their colleagues, aides, security personnel and volunteers involved with the game.

Living on the edge

Inciting followers is a dangerous act because some of these people are already living on the edge, barely able to restrain the personal demons that ultimately lead many of these shooters to actually pick up weapons, rent a truck or put on a suicide vest. While those who promote rage may deny responsibility for murderous acts, it is apparent that those who preach hatred are doing the nation a disservice.

Looking for a few good leaders!

President Trump set a good example of temperate language after this baseball shooting incident.

"We may have our differences, but we do well to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because they love our country."

"We are strongest when we are unified and work together for the common good."

Other leaders followed suit in ways that were heartening, but it remains to be seen how long this civility will last and how many of the pundits and commentators most guilty of preaching hate and division will persist in their hate speech.

One of the Congressmen at the scene, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville, Illinois, made the same call for decency as this article:

In the CNN interview, Davis blamed the shooting on the "hateful" tone of politics in the country and said it "could be the first political rhetorical terrorist act."

"I believe there is such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now … on social media and the 24-hour news cycle. This has got to stop."

"We can disagree on how to govern — that's what makes this country great," he said. "I think Republicans and Democrats need to use this day today to stand together and say, 'Stop, let's work together, let's get things done. We can have our differences, but let's not let it lead to such hate.'"

"Let this day be our day," he said, "where we come together as a country and stop this political, rhetorical hate speech that we see on all sides, in the media and in social media."

Source: Chicago Tribune

Rules of Common Decency

  1. Encourage unity
  2. Seek common ground
  3. Applaud acts of kindness and civility
  4. Build bridges
  5. No name calling!
  6. No hate speech!
  7. No doomsday predictions!
  8. No fake news stories!
  9. No encouragement of violence!
  10. No character assassination!

The Great Report

  • Creates something new
  • Grapples with a big challenge
  • Explores the unknown
  • Shares insights and understandings that
    are perceptive and original
  • Awakens curiosity
  • Entertains, delights and illuminates

You can read sample chapters and see the list of chapters by clicking here.

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