First it was Columbus, Georgia’s Ledger-Enquirer. And now it’s the Houston Chronicle. The last half of November saw the Institute’s definition of civility quoted in not one, but two guides to holiday comportment.
The first, of course, was Dimon Kendrick-Holmes’s November 22 column, The Word for Today, and for the Holidays, which we featured last week.
But even more recently, the definition was featured in a Chronicle blog post by The Peace Pastor, Marty Troyer, simply titled Survival Guide for the Holidays.
In Troyer’s post, he tells us that Thanksgiving — and the Holiday Season as a whole — is all about extroverted time with people who believe differently, vote differently, function differently, parent differently, eat differently, relax differently, entertain differently, pray differently, and expect differently than you do. It is a time, he writes, that is as ripe for anxiety as it is for giving thanks.
But to this, he tells us, civility is the solution.
I love the definition of civility from Tomas Spath: “Civility” is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process. Speak the truth, tell your story and don’t let anyone run all over you. The Jesus ethic does not demand you lose arguments. Honesty is essential. But so is granting others the same amount of respect you desire. Don’t in any way hide your beliefs, but at the same time stay engaged with those you disagree with. Taking a learning, rather than a “teaching” posture, can often diffuse the anxiety and shows respect for those around the table, even if you experience them as “enemies.”
As we wrote last week, Institute’s definition of civility — and its insistence on a more civil discourse at every level of society — is catching on. The Ledger-Enquirer’s Dimon Kendrick-Holmes told us that it is applicable well beyond the bounds of government. And he is absolutely right.
But it cannot spread alone.
If you believe in the efficacy of civil speech and civil action in Washington D.C., or City Hall, or around the family table, add your voice to ours. Click here to join the Institute for Civility in Government today. Or here to make a donation.