This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.
This week takes on three of the most touchy issues in our collective social landscape — religion, politics, and golf — and turns them all toward the purpose of civility. From all quarters, we have calls for moderation in our discourse, and calls to turn away from strategies like ad hominem attacks that do little but create bad blood. And we have a positive example in a round of golf played by Jordan Spieth and Jason Day at the recent PGA Championship where, by one account at least, the two athletes were competitive and focused on victory while still remaining genial.
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Now — the list:
We have reached a point where politicians fear to commit themselves to even the mildest standard of civility. In 2009, two prominent political activists, Republican Mark DeMoss and Democrat Lanny Davis, launched a campaign to try and soften the nation’s harsh public tone. They wrote to all 535 members of Congress and the 50 governors, asking each to sign a simple Civility Pledge: “I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it.” For months the bipartisan duo promoted their civility campaign. But in the end, of the 585 elected officials to whom they sent the pledge, only three — three — were willing to sign.
We aren’t the first Americans to live in polarized, passionate times, nor the first in which political rhetoric has grown so malignant….
America today may not be on the verge of a civil war. But our ability to find common ground is diminishing by the day, and even those who should know better are calling not for more civility, but less. We are heading in the wrong direction, and it will not end well.
The executive that signed professional golfer Jordan Spieth to a long-term endorsement deal with Under Armour should get a raise. In the year, since he signed on, the 21-year-old Texan has won two major golf championships, missed winning the other two by a total of four strokes and, with his second place finish in the PGA Championship yesterday, captured the No. 1 ranking in the world.
He did all of this while remaining calm, steady and friendly. In short, he’s an absolutely killer competitor who is, by the standards of any era, remarkably civil.
For Christians who long to follow in Christ’s footsteps, words indeed matter….
We can bless or curse others depending on how we say something or express our opinions; but those who use tact and mercy not only bless others but receive a blessing of kindness in return. Words can be as nourishing as fruit that is shared within community.
When we engage in politics in the public square, we speak as ambassadors of Christ and citizens of the Kingdom of God. Let us not try to keep one foot in God’s Kingdom and another foot in the world or we, as one theologian put it, will only stumble as a result.
Civility No More: Where Are the Better Angels of Politics?
Posted by Dan Glickman at The Hufington Post, August 28, 2015
Today, things are different. We have witnessed a substantial erosion of civility in political discourse in contemporary politics. In my view, the end of civility in our political system is a true loss for every American, Republican and Democrat alike.
President Bill Clinton once said that, “when people feel uncertain, they’d rather have someone who is strong and wrong than someone who is weak and right.” It looks like that is happening in America right now.
The state of contemporary politics is one in which bombast is met with approval. Extreme viewpoints are greeted with appreciative nods by a disturbingly large segment of the American electorate, and so the incentive for political leaders to make such comments is significant. Of course, there have always been and will always be people in a free and democratic country such as this who hold views that are extreme or unpopular, and it is their right to do so. But in this country politicians weren’t always so easily able to accrue benefit from being egomaniacal, indecent, uncivil and frankly just plain rude.
The language of civility would suggest that each side look for the good (another forgotten concept) in what the other is saying and be respectful of the differences. I wonder what this would do to the ratings of these types of programs.
The virtue of civility implies a respect (maybe another forgotten concept) for the other as being created in the image and likeness of God. If we believe this then we cannot give pejorative labels to people just because they are different in some aspects from us. Most religions of the world contain in one form or another the injunction “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” In the book “The Little Monk” by Madeline Delbrel, a collection of sayings about life, one struck me as I was preparing to write this column: “When certain people question your character, don’t respond by doubting theirs.”