October 18, 2012 Redux in 2016

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*I almost skipped this entry from four years ago. I do still believe that civility allows for some good natured humor, but there’s not much funny today when we hear Donald Trump’s careless rhetoric and words, either about rigged elections or women. Maybe this is a needed reminder of how these elections and candidacies should be going. Who would have thought that four years ago would seem so tame and be remembered so fondly. Weird, huh?

Oct. 18 ~ Civility does allow for humor, just be wise & fair, and use some whimsy! #civility

Of course civility allows for some humor, just keep it fair and whimsical, and be wise. The most current, gut-busting example is the MEME activity with Governor Romney’s statement about having “binders full of women.”

And the funniest of the MEME’s to me don’t even have his picture in them, but instead have President Clinton making some funny face or even Boromir. I’m cracking up over these things! Here are my three favorites, none of which show Governor Romney…

…and my all time fav below…

Do some of the MEME’s out there cross the line of civility? Yes indeed. Some are mean spirited ones and some are simply misrepresenting the comment. Was it a poor choice of words? Sure thing. Was it funny? Heck yeah!

I don’t believe that it’s fair or correct to judge Governor Romney’s views on women by that statement, which was obviously not well thought out. We just need to be able to laugh sometimes and let things be humorous. Just stick with the whimsy and leave the meanness out!

October 13, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 13 ~ Civility asks good questions. #civility

If we believe that civility is built on things like fairness and honesty then we will be asking good questions. No one likes leading questions or the good ole “gotcha” questions. Those kinds of tactics don’t advance conversations or ever convince anyone of anything.

Good questions seek to understand and to help the other person fully verbalize their thoughts. This kind of participatory listening and asking good questions can help everyone get a better grip on where a conversation has been, where it is, and where it can and needs to go!

Try it! Instead of “How stupid can you be?” ask the person “Who has influenced you most in your opinion on this topic?” Then listen! Instead of asking “How many more people must die at the hands of your ignorance?” ask them “So, what if we did things this way over here… what do you think would change?” And then listen!

Good questions lead to good conversations!

Nov. 22, 2013 Civility in Xian Scripture

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heart of a strangerNovember 22: Civility has always transcended us vs. them limitations, just as justice and “right” has transcended our divisions.

Exodus 23:9, “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” New King James Version

I want to carry yesterday’s idea forward another day. We looked at the passage in Colossians 4 and chatted about the way that our grace, particularly civil attitude and conversation, wasn’t just reserved for “us” but was also for “them.” Today, I want to show that this isn’t a new idea introduced in the New Testament, but this was in the formative concepts of justice when God gave Law to the Israelites.

That verse from Exodus is a nice example of the way God included “care of the other” from the earliest days of expressing divine will on justice and fairness. The people of Israel had been the strangers, the foreigners, the aliens, the “other” while living in Egypt. They began that sojourn fleeing famine, but ended up as slaves. They knew the truth of injustice. The passage above reminds them that they should know “the heart of a stranger,” how it feels to be unknown, on the outside, seen as “the other.” From that experience, they are commanded to care for those not like them and not from among them. Justice was for all, and this is a firm foundation for civility being for all.

There are other verses that echo this idea of God wanting Israel to transcend the “us and them” divide in life, even to the point of acting as if there was no difference between they and the other. All people’s value was to be supported and Israel’s behavior was to be consistent:

Leviticus 19:33-34, “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Exodus 22:21 “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!'”

I think God has always wanted to break down barriers between us. The “chosen people” language of God’s nation Israel might cause us to think otherwise. The “called out” ecclesial language of the church might cause us to think otherwise. But the choosing and the calling has always been purposeful, and I believe part of that purpose is to break down the barriers of division, animosity and hatred that arise between us.

I need to be a safe person for all others, even “the other.” My civility is an extension of this truth. I cannot reserve a special hatred for the outsider because she is an outsider. I cannot reserve my love only for those I know. I cannot hoard my peace and civility for those who like me or think like me. My heart needs to beat for the stranger, for the outsider, for the alien. I need to be “safe” for all.

AMDG, Todd