Thursday, March 8, 2012

Civility, Last

Leonard Pitts also touched on civility – tho indirectly – when he wrote about the contemporary Republican Party yesterday, making points similar to mine. “’Severely Conservative,’ Romney said. So ‘severe’ that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t know him. That’s because what now passes for conservatism is less an ideology than an excuse for [incivility] ideological rigidity, extreme language, shameless (indeed, proud) ignorance and situational ethics wherein the only thing that matters is victory and any tactic – fear, misogyny, bigotry, lies – is acceptable so long as it advances the goal.

“Spare me the false moral equivalence of noting that liberals are sometimes guilty of the same crimes. Duh. Of course they are. But the frequency and intensity on the left do not begin to compare with that of the right. The GOP has been so overrun by extremists that ‘moderate’ [and compromise are] now an epithet[s].”

So much for civility. Too bad. Because the term ‘civility’ is about much more than polite courtesies. Derived from Latin and Old French, ‘civility’ and means ‘good citizen.’ Civility enables us to live cooperatively and respectfully in communities – not armed camps, and is the glue that binds a society. Civility is an essential element of our humanity and human sustainability, enabling us to not only survive, but thrive.

Pitts and I agree that the GOP has no interest in civility. If civility is to return to the public square, the commons we share in our institutions, the media and face-to-face, you and I - we - will have to do it. It’s a one person, one transaction at a time thing.

We have to hold the practitioners and supporters of incivility accountable. We have to say no in everyway possible to those who drag our society down and profit from incivility. We also have to support the practitioners and supporters of civility. Means and ends must be compatible. We can not achieve a fair and just society by being unfair, unjust and uncivil.

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