“Civility” becomes trendy?
The last 10 days have been a banner day for proof why civility and social skills need to be taught in schools. Joe Wilson’s shout-out during the President’s address, Kanye West’s outburst, Beyonce’s reaction — where HAVE your manners gone, people?
And, suddenly, “civility” is a buzzword. Everyone is talking about it. How disgusting and shocking these undisciplined (or rehearsed, to hear some say) acts are. However, it shouldn’t come as a shock, particularly to those of us who have been crusading for a return to a more decent way of interacting with one another. Over the past few decades, we have been sliding down an increasingly slippery slope where our society expects media figures to shred each other publicly, argue incessantly on camera without giving the other side their turn to talk, kids who bully because they believe that in order for them to be “more” they need to make others “less,” and where we are entitled to our creature comforts merely because we can fog a mirror.
Civility has gone the wayside along with those other “old-fashioned” character traits of honesty, respect, trustworthiness, compassion and consideration. “Integrity” has come to mean being really, really sorry when we are caught doing wrong, instead of that principle that keeps us from DOING wrong in the first place.
Essentially we are reaping what we have sown for 30 years or more. What we see now is the product of generations of young people who were not taught what is decent, right, and respectful, where we learn everyone may have an opinion but that doesn’t mean it’s the right time or place to share it. If ever there was a call for teaching these kinds of skills – yes even in schools – these recent incidents have helped justify it. We cannot guarantee that our children will learn them in any other way, and it has a significant impact on their personal and professional success, not to mention our communities.
Many people would like to lay the blame for this rude, crude and indifferent new society at the feet of the parents. We can debate this forever because, while I do accept that there are too many parents who AREN’T teaching these things to their kids, there are also many parents out there who are trying, or who may come to this country from a different culture, who themselves may not have been taught—or kids who don’t have parents or good role models to teach them. Rather than play the blame game, let’s focus on fixing the problem. Again, it’s likely going to come down to schools.
There is no good reason not to be kind, decent, compassionate to one another. A society that doesn’t believe in and operate by some form of the Golden Rule will not survive. Without consideration for one another, you don’t have a community — you have anarchy.
I’ve long held as my personal mantra that I’m “Putting ‘civil’ back into ‘civilization’.” I’d love it for many more to join me in that mission because there is NO downside. It’d be great if we could turn the buzz word of “civlity” into the buzz of action!