“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.” — Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke, Founders of the Institute for Civility in Government
Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.
And civility begins with us.