“Civility “


I have been contrasting each virtue with a near quality that is not quite the same thing. However, I find no parallel word for “civility.” I think that we recognize that either someone is being civil or they aren’t. Even if the person is gritting their teeth while they are speaking, we still can see that they are being civil.

Civility prospers at home when children observe adults speaking to each other without mean words or violent actions. Adults teach children by saying things like “we don’t talk like that in this house.” Another commonly heard phrase is “if you can’t say something nice about a person don’t say anything at all.” Neither of these changes a child’s thoughts; rather each is teaching civility, a way to get along in the world.

Civility continues to be modeled in schools where even the youngest are taught to take turns and to speak kindly to one another. Bullying is the opposite of civility, and children learn that it is not allowed at school. Name calling similarly brings rebukes from teachers.

The United States at the moment is headed by a president who lacks any semblance of civility. Some actually applaud him for this very lack, believing that civility is unimportant. And some of us find ourselves stooping to uncivil speech and behavior as a result. While we cannot use our political climate as an example of civility for our children, we can certainly talk about why it is not OK. We can’t explain why adults are acting in ways we won’t let children act. But we know that we won’t let the bad examples influence our continuing efforts to impart civility to our young.

19 thoughts on ““Civility “

  1. Those that get praised for their tough, no-nonsense, and un-civil behaviour usually receive that praise because there is nothing else positive that could be said on their behalf. Tring to pretend that one of their many failings is an asset. Unfortunately we too have problems with a loss of civilised discourse in the world of politics. The increasingly tribal nature of our politics seems to lead all debates into uncivil hectoring and catcalling. The few that try to promote civilised debate and argument are derided while louts are lauded.


  2. As far as President Trump is concerned, civility is for “losers.” By that standard, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi were losers, and the likes of Pol Pot and Hitler were winners. Millions of Americans should be ashamed of themselves for supporting Trump.


  3. With millenials raising the next generation, I’m afraid that civility will die the death that common sense suffered. It;s just so sad, I remember fondly the statements that my parents shared with us. The golden rule printed on all the rulers at school. Now it is thought silly, and lame and all other types of descriptions, to keep the younger ones from learning manners and civility.


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