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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Being Civil in an Angry Age

Civility, a simple building block for a better
This is not a post about "political correctness." I'm not some delicate little snowflake, as so many try to dismiss people who stand up for a civil society. Civility is defined as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech. It is absolutely necessary moving forward into 2017 and the Trump age of American politics and the Farage age of British politics.

The store across from our church had Nazi swastikas scrawled across its walls. I know a grade school crossing guard who has had to call in the police to monitor her crossing because too many drivers were becoming increasingly hostile to following simple, civil traffic rules in regards to children's safety. Recently, a grandmother's three year old granddaughter was gunned down at a stop sign because the enraged and armed man behind her became furious because she didn't pull away from the stop sign fast enough to suit Mr. Fast and Furious. In the new age of rage, his idea of a logical response was to open fire on the offending drivers car. Whether he intended to kill the three-year-old child is up for debate since this murderer has yet to be caught (at the time of this writing).

This is where we are headed in an age of anti-PC politics. We have emboldened all who live with simmering hatred and scores to settle. People are spewing all sorts of hateful things and taking all sorts of hateful actions against any group they consider "other" and therefore less than human, easy targets for their previously impotent rage.

The rest of us must work hard to be an example of civil society. Acts of politeness and courtesy have great power in a dark age. They become small beacons of light and hope in the fearful darkness. They also may save someone from suicide. Notes have been found repeatedly from people who have jumped to their deaths from the Bay Bridge stating if one person smiles at me between here and the bridge I won't jump. Imagine that, your simple act of kindness, your gentle smile of civility may save a life.

Now, to be civil in an angry age means to have a spine of steel. You have to be willing to intervene in cases of escalating bullying. There are many excellent posts on how to do so safely. You may have to call in the police, like the aforementioned crossing guard. You may need to become familiar with Facebook Live to record and shame some angry lout out of a dangerous course of action. Being civil is not being weak. Stand for civil society. Push back against the gathering darkness. It is how we become increasingly safe and help others to be safe as well. In the process you may save an angry person from committing a crime they cannot take back, one that will ruin their life and the lives of others forever. I'd say all of that is worth the effort, wouldn't you?

How to live stream from Facebook:

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