Civilly into 2019
This past year has been characterized in America with a real breakdown in civility – with people at odds with each other and not really caring how that is expressed. Names are called, nasty adjectives are used to describe people on “the other side,” and a serious lack of respect, dignity and consideration has come to be the norm in the public forum, and, increasingly, in our work and private lives as well.
While it’s tempting to blame one group or another, that gets us nowhere. Casting blame on the “hated other” has always been the cowardly way to participate in free speech.
Somehow, we have to find our way back to an America where everyone’s voice is heard and respected – or at least it is most of the time by most of us.
Our language and actions must again show that we believe in the value of all people, even those who disagree with us. We have to be able to say that, while we might vehemently disagree with those who differ in opinion from us, nevertheless we defend their right to do so.
That’s the way our representative democracy has always run. When we lose sight of this, we engender chaos, disrespect, harassment, discrimination, bullying, violence and other signs of a culture in turmoil. The cost is high to individuals who struggle with the distress this causes, and for many, it’s a serious issue causing them anxiety, depression and stress.
So here are some ideas to contribute and enhance civility in our lives:
Think how your words and actions will impact others… before you say/do them.
Listen. Really listen. In 2016, I remember hearing someone say that, after you voted in the Presidential election, you should find someone who voted differently from you – talk to them, and find something you agree on. Wise words. We are often closer in agreement than we think we are and have much more in common than we could imagine.
Consider body language and voice tone when you speak. They convey meaning as well as words.
Try to never stereotype or label another, and strive to make life good for all people. Be respectful in your communication and try to help others feel that you value them, despite differences.
Don’t get confused – listening attentively and discussing a topic does not necessarily equate to agreement. If you listen, clarify what was said, ask questions, and speak calmly and kindly, you can still disagree. Learn to “agree to disagree” in a respectful way.
If disagreement happens, take responsibility for your part, regardless of the situation. No matter what, your behavior is and you must own it. Taking the high road is the best option.
Try not to assume what you think the other’s position is – when you jump to conclusions and act impulsively based on negative assumptions about someone’s intent, you not only communicate ineffectively, but you damage relationships.
Shy away from gossip, complaining and negativity in general.
A valuable thought is to consider how you will feel about the conversation or action you wish to take in the future – will you find it necessary and be glad you said/did it? Many things seem important at the time, but later are regretted.
Applaud others who you see are trying hard to maintain and foster respect in public life, the workplace and our culture in general. When everyone is complaining, it’s hard not to join in.
Strive to be an example to others of manners, civility, respect and consideration. No one will be 100% perfect in this, but it’s a worthy goal.
to make 2019 a civil new year.
When the world gets to be too much, we can help. We have been helping couples, individuals and families find peace for many years and would love to help you live your best life. Give us a call!
Sanctuary Christian Counseling LLC
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257