On Civility – Religion and Politics

It must be considered to be a simple reality of life that, when we speak, we do so from a perspective that is uniquely our own. There are some that will complain that doing so requires a lot of use of the words, “I” and, “me.” Be that as it may, such is the case as far as I’m able to tell.

The reason for this is really pretty simple. When I write, the basis for that which I write, is my opinion(s) and my understanding of the World at large. If I were to write fiction works, things would be different, but I don’t, rather, I write what most would term “opinion pieces.” As such, you should expect to “hear” my opinions when and if you read my work.

All this being said, I should make a couple of things about what I write, clear for all to see.

To begin with, I do what I do “in the great wide open.” Put another way, I don’t write in a vacuum. It’s my intent to air my perspective and understanding, with the understanding that what I say may be wrong. I can also accept that for some things I say, there may not be one “correct answer.” I want discourse. I desire folks to tell me what they think—and that matters most when they don’t agree with me (best of all, when they can articulate their reason or reasons—the more eloquently, the better).

You see, I learned long ago, that I was not the purveyor of all wisdom—not even on the subjects about which I care the very most.

Equally, if not more, importantly, I have no desire to be such a person. I have no need, nor desire to constantly best those about me. That’s just not how life ought to work in my opinion.

Saying this acts as a sort of “gateway” to my second point—the one about which this article is ostensibly written.

If I believed myself to be omniscient, I suppose I could see it as a reasonable thing to act in a lordly, perhaps even kingly manner. Since I don’t have any such illusion (much less a knowledge of the reality of my supposed superiority), it seems as though it would be more than a little ridiculous of me to take such a position.

Honestly, even if I knew far more than anybody around or about me, I still could not imagine acting so. In truth, it seems to me with just the limited wisdom I possess, that there’s a great deal of sense in the old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That doesn’t mean I want to take advantage of others either though. It means rather, that people respond so much more reasonably when you’re somebody they find to be a pleasant person with whom to deal.

In point of fact, as a rule, I find this the best model for life. That is, you ought to be a person people will remember as being pleasant. And you should treat people nicely, politely, and as “bearers of merit” regardless their station in life. They may be kings or paupers, or something in between; whatever they be, you should treat them with niceness and respect.

Though arguments can be made for dealing with “enemies” differently than with “friends” (other such arguments can be made for strangers or folks in other “stati.”), I personally tend to believe you should be as kind and polite to even those with whom you have the strongest of disagreements.

I’m not saying there cannot be exceptions, just that as a rule, this is a “solid modus operandi.”

The interesting thing is, I would be willing to make a pretty large wager, that the majority of folks out there claim to believe the same thing. If that’s the case, why do I need to write this piece at all?

A good question, worthy of an answer.

With the advent of the Internet, and its various platforms (things like social media and email), it would seem that people—apparently thinking themselves to be acting in anonymity—are willing to “suspend” this basic rule of life.

You may believe this to be acceptable. As for me, I do not. Who I am is who I am, Internet, anonymity, or not. The person you meet on the street is the same person I do my level best to present on the Internet—even when you don’t know it’s me with whom you’re dealing.

The thing is, if this manner of response and behavior had stopped at the Internet and its various subcomponents, that would have been bad enough.

The reality is though, it hasn’t. Don’t take me wrong, not everyone behaves badly, Internet or not. The thing is though, a good many people have been moving toward incivility in a variety of venues and at an alarmingly ever faster pace.

One apparent key to this change, is that people seem to have decided on escalation rather than calmness and deescalation. Put another way, it appears that the majority of people have forgotten a very simple fact. What fact? You alone, decide how you will respond to the statements and actions of others. If you decide to respond badly, chances are good things will just get worse. Either you’ll hurt people, or they’ll hurt you.

Again, I’m not saying there is no scenario in which it’s totally necessary to respond in kind (or even with a seemingly overzealous reaction). I am saying though, that the majority of the time, almost everything will work out better if you choose a path of firmness but niceness.

This is, as a rule, the philosophy I apply to life (though some would disagree). As a rule, it works pretty darned well!

Being civil is not something you can “charge” others to do as a rule. It is a path you must choose (often, even when those around you are not doing likewise). It’s often a hard choice, but almost always a good one.

Okay, here I am at the end of my time and words. As usual, allow me to wish you the best of times, and to thank you for taking the time to read my work.

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