October 10, 2012 Redux in 2016
Oct. 10 ~ An opportunity of civility: you just might learn something when not screaming. #civility
Admittedly, this one is a little lighter today and I hope someone gets a chuckles from it. But at the same time, it’s a good one to remember.
In fact, it’s a good one to remember when speaking in political discourse, religious discourse, or just trying to figure out whose day it is to make coffee at the office. This one will hold true when we talk to our kids and when we walk up on the Meter Attendant slipping the parking ticket under our wiper blade.
Today’s post is about “posture” as much as volume. Am I postured for civil discourse? Does my body language, my reflex and habit, my volume, communicate that I’m ready to learn?
2 thoughts on “October 10, 2012 Redux in 2016”
October 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm
Todd, glad to see you are encouraging civility. I just happened to have written a few lines related to the ‘civility discussion’ only two days ago. I’d like to share them here with you because I believe they speak to the delicate balance we attempt when dealing with our differences in the best and most productive way. Feel free to delete the comments if you feel they may come across as lacking in civility in any way. Here they are:
“If we are going to disagree on any matter, doing so with civility is best; civility, however, is not a trump to truth. Truth is the liberator because it contains God’s perfect design for humanity. A softly worded stroll through the wood of a very difficult issue is good so long as it is stays to the path of truth. Stay to the ancient way wherein resides the good for everyman.”
October 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm
Hello, Steve! You know, I don’t disagree at all with your sentiment of conviction to speak truth, but I’d take a moment to rethink a couple of things your comment seems to assume… first, that civility is somehow weak, just a “softly worded stroll,” and secondly that civility means abdicating truth, so that ultimately civility will be sacrificed to be truthful. Ultimately, it’s the second one I would most disagree with… being civil does not mean giving up conviction or refusing to speak one’s conviction. Civility certainly never stands opposed to truth. I don’t believe myself that there will be a time that truth demands incivility of me. I don’t believe there will be a time that truth is best served by incivility. In a conversation this morning a friend of mine mentioned an ancient Chinese proverb that goes: “Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.” That rings very true for me.
Within a religious or spiritual context, I would certainly say that “civility” is speaking in the “Way of Christ.” You can frame that as “speaking the truth in love,” or in “your words being wholesome, spoken to build up instead of tearing down,” or my personal favorite, “let your gentleness be evident to all.” I don’t find your words above lacking any civility, I just would say that they might give license to someone to believe that civility may one day be opposed to their obligation to be truthful. If that becomes the case, then they can speak with the “whatever it takes to win or dominate a person or situation” kind of attitude that is all too familiar and recurring in our conversations.
Civility is of better service to truth than dominance, shrillness, anger, or any other posture of communication. Civility also serves us best in our speaking and living for Christ, as it supports our gentleness, humility, spiritual witness and servant attitude for all our neighbors, the biblical hallmarks of our life in this world.