AN UNCIVIL WAR IS RAGING
"A U.S. study on civility showed 88% of Americans identified incivility as a problem - and says it's getting worse. Deep thinkers are beginning to talk about lack of manners as a kind of acid eating away at the fabric of society. Today's rudeness leading to tomorrow's fistfight, leading to expectation of violence, leading to people hunkering in gated communities and not caring what's happening to folks just outside the fence.
In today's society of two-parent incomes, single parent families and stay-home parents overburdened with community responsibilities the other groups don't have time for, kids just aren't around adults enough to absorb proper comportment. Heck, adults aren't around other adults enough to display it. It isn't a lack of parenting skills as much as a simple lack of time.
Since we've begun to shout each other down, our whole society has begun to revolve around violence. Once we saw violence as a last resort, now it's the first resort. Civility is comfort, hidden goodness, social lubricant, personal worth, helping others, play - civility is the joy we take in our human achievements and the compassion we show toward our all-too-human faults. If society is a machine of interconnected cogs and wheels, civility is the oil that keeps the machine running smoothly - a lubricant described as 'social capital'. Incivility is incompatible with democracy. If people are uncivil in their private and social lives, they will be uncivil in their public lives. It's corrosive to the foundations of our regime.
The deep thinkers would have it that this very basis of our society, the constitution's promise for peace, order and good government and protection of our rights, is threatened by rudeness and crudeness in public discourse. In subtle and heavy-handed ways we condition ourselves and our children to accept a less-than-civil status quo. How we got into this ill-mannered mess is perhaps less important than how we can get out of it.
Three Dozen Ways to Build a More Civil Society:
Credits: Calgary Herald Oct 4/98; Say Please, Say Thank You, The Respect We Owe One Another, by Donald McCullough
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