Civility, what’s happening to it? This is something that we often hear especially from those over the age of 50. Marian Wright Edelman says it best “We are coming to the point in this country where doing what is right is merging with what we need to do to save our national skins.” Changing the current state of our incivility to one another is a challenge. Civility it seems has fallen by the wayside in today’s world which is changing at warp speed. Our speech, personalities, civility and styles have all been altered by the fast pace technologies. It seems we’ve decided that communicating with each other the way we once did is no longer important. We are changed, civility is no longer important in our personal lives. At the same time, vulgarity has escalated in our speech and we now lack the basic common standards of decency and courtesy learned in our childhood.
Society is different today and so are we, bad behavior and rudeness is pervasive and the new norm. The social and financial cost of our incivility are astronomical and has impacted our relationships, home, schools, government and even our health care. Perhaps we’ve even forgotten that civility in our behavior to one another is more than being polite on occasion. Civility enables us to live among each other; it glues us together as a society and could be the difference between life and death. Example: When law enforcement agents or health care professionals make mistakes and bully subordinates into covering up their errors – creating mistrust. Trust and civility are necessary since it enables us to survive as well as thrive and is essential to sustain us as a people.
We must reverse the current course of incivility to each other and not let bad behavior be the norm for the coming generations. Perhaps it will be necessary to develop a rudeness vaccine; if that can’t be done then we must dig deep into our tool kits to find a solution. There is something great about treating others with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion and generosity. If we do that we can make a difference. Let’s plant the seeds of civility one at a time and help to reverse the trends of rudeness and bad behavior that is corrupting our society, and the world.