A dialog on civility

George Caleb Bingham - The County Election, Wikimedia Commons

George Caleb Bingham – The County Election, Wikimedia Commons

We all want a civil society, but what does civility actually mean when describing today’s bombastic rhetoric to each other.

No matter which side, liberal or conservative, one can easily find comments on the internet that show no desire to find common ground, and remaining cordial is a useless exercise to some.

We have all seen it.

There is so much anger today, and finding ways to extinguish that fire can seem to be a daunting task for anyone that believes that we will have to find ways to work together, to move forward.

Unfortunately, it appears there are some that believe the fight is worth fighting, and being civil is needless and unwanted. Their efforts extend to trying to eradicate the opposing political parties views.

We are in a new kind of civil war that is dividing family and friends. This has become more prevalent since so many have turned to Facebook to air their differences. 

The new norm is an us versus them mentality, if you will. Winning this fight has gotten everyone so worked up, that I wish everyone would take a collective deep breath to see how we are talking to each other, and to find ways to heal the wounds that have been inflicted.

What is not seen or heard though is the fact that there are many that think politics is not worth losing friendships with their family and friends, so they go underground with their beliefs to keep the peace. I am in between. I believe strongly in my political ideals and I want to be able to express my values without fear, but I have lost friendships too, and I have become tame compared to some.

In my community, I have totally different political values to many, but I grew up in the same environment that they did. I know the same people that they do. I went hunting at a young age, like many, and went to the same churches, festivals and events. I am a part of the community and the community is part of me, as it is with them.

Sometimes, I feel they can be hard-headed and refuse to back away from their positions, but I find that I am just as adamant about my own positions. The difficulty is if they get into a huff, they just walk away for good, and let me tell you, they have long memories.

I have learned that I have to be very diplomatic when talking to my friends, and I know there are some people you just can’t reach, but I do believe it is possible for them to at least accept that my ideals should be on the table and not disqualified out of hand as so often happens today. At the same time, I don’t want them to think that I am discrediting their thoughts as well.

Because of all of the heated rhetoric, I understand what it means to feel like a stranger in my own community, and that I am only tolerated, because I was born here. I know that this isn’t true, but the feeling is the same. The ground beneath my feet still feels like home though, and nothing will persuade me to think otherwise.

One fact still remains the same, I am just as much an American as any other, no matter my beliefs. But is the fight worth it?

Being from Kentucky, the Hatfield and McCoy feud comes to mind. The fight between them lasted for generations, and back then, they could have never envisioned a day when they wouldn’t be fighting, but today, they only battle each other to see who can bring in the most tourist money for their communities. Their feud has faded away.

Will this feud that we are in today, that is causing so much incivility and harm, do the same? I hope so.

 

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7 thoughts on “A dialog on civility

  1. I don’t know how we can expect anything close to a “civil society” when we have a continuing growth in income/wealth inequality! It’s high time we level the playing field and insure that all play by the same rules.

  2. For me, I am looking to the future for a better way to approach a dialog. I agree that leveling the playing field is one of the most important tasks for helping the middle class and the poor to get ahead, but I also have to take other considerations into account as well, when faced with the prospect of alienating my friends and family.

  3. publicconversations.org is a great resource (many free downloads) for learning the how-to of civil dialogue with family, neighbors, community, church groups, etc, etc.

    Their work “draws on family therapy and several other disciplines as well as more than twenty years of experience using dialogue as a tool to transform conflict and rebuild damaged communities.”

    For example, Dialogue:A Virtual Workshop (free) has 12 very brief videos that look at how polarization happens, etc.
    http://www.publicconversations.org/video-series/virtualworkshop/sec1

  4. I like your article. I agree, our representatives in Congress need to be able to talk with each other. I a
    m not affiliated with any political party. My concern at the moment is the health of our legislative process. We the people must “calm the rhetoric” of our American culture. We must start with ourselves then require it of the people we elect to public office. Inflammatory language is not OK. Actual truth will speak for itself. #CalmTheRhetoric

  5. Pingback: Dialogue Will Be Our Truest Path | Theology In Brief

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