Civility in Troubled Times

It is difficult to avoid all the political venom and lies floating in the media as we move towards the November elections.  When was the last time we had a true Statesman to choose from?  I can’t remember…  If we know we are being lied to and still, we have to vote for Somebody, usually the lesser of two evils, what does that tell us about our political system, our world, ourselves?  I believe it is a political act to hold our politicians to a higher standard of civility then they presently demonstrate.  Let’s ask them to be better examples for all of us!

The daily discourse has also been degraded.  Have you noticed the trend of someone saying “Thank you” and getting the reply “No problem” back?  Did I say there was a problem?  No, I just thanked you!  What happened to “You are welcome.”  It left in despair, fell down the black hole of cyberspace and has not been heard from in 10 years!

I see this in families, too.  Parents are not respecting their partners and are allowing the children to be disrespectful to them.  Parents are also disrespecting children and children are disrespecting adults!  I overheard a parent asking her teenage son to “quick run back and get butter” at the grocery and the child’s response was “Why?  What’s in it for me?”  I must have given that boy a look of such shock because he saw my face and stormed off to get the butter!

What are we creating?  I have heard people say the meanest things under the guise of “I am just being honest!”  But honesty can be delivered in many ways.  The offense is usually not from the words, but rather from the tone that those words are delivered in.  It is my job to be very direct and honest, but I deliver the honest words with respect and care.  I will sometimes start off my sentence with “I want to give you some feedback, so put up your dukes in case it comes out too strong.”  This gives the person a minute to prepare.  And when my words are not too strong, the person feels relieved and is more open to talking because they feel as if they have just “Dodged a bullet”.  A lot of my day is spent helping people figure out how to talk to other people in a way that maximizes the potential for them to be understood.  We all want to be understood but not everyone knows how to communicate.

We seem to have forgotten the idea of treating others as we wish to be treated.  When I talked with a friend about how badly she was treating her daughter-in-law, she brushed it off as “I was in grief” but when I pointed out that her daughter-in-lay shared that same grief, she had nothing to say.  Nor did she choose to apologize to her.  Is this selfishness?  Laziness?  I don’t know.

Being civil costs nothing but the energy to do it.  It reaps rewards that we all say we want.  It is worth remembering and doing.  Why not try it this month?