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’s linkblogging segment is anchored by two interviews — one with Ronald D. Liebowitz, President of Middlebury college, and the other with Os Guinness, founder of the Trinity Forum. Dr. Liebowitz’s comes in response to an act of incivility on Middlebury’s campus, in which a group of students removed a 9/11 memorial display for what they believed to be sound reasons. While Guinness’s interview is more broad-ranging, but pertains to the question of the role of Christianity in American politics, and its place as part of civil debate in the American public square.
If you have an article that you think would be right for future civility linkblogging posts, please do not hesitate to email it to us at [email protected]. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.
Now on to the list:
Dr. P.M. Forni, whose books Choosing Civility and The Civility Solution got me rambling on this subject in the first place, suggests we begin by changing how we treat one another on the interpersonal level.
While composing The Civility Solution, Forni surveyed people about what bothers them most, and came up with what he calls “The Terrible 10” situations that bring out anger in people
President Ronald D. Liebowitz of Middlebury College: Civility is a must. We’re an academic institution, and so we don’t only teach facts. We also teach how to argue, how to debate, how to engage, how to learn. And being civil is a key part of doing all of these things.
I was looking over a past post about the Sun-Times firings and said to myself, “Wow, I sound really angry here.” The truth is, I was. I just didn’t think that I sounded that angry. In my mind, it was pointed and strongly worded for the circumstances. At the time, a CNN blog commented that my post was “acid” and I remember thinking, “acid”? Really?
I guess that’s the case when you’re upset. You don’t realize how you sound until you read it later and realize it has all the nuance of “FLAME ON!”
In a press conference organized by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance Social Action Committee, the ministers denounced what they called “character assassinations,” but declined to cite any specific examples.
The Rev. Johnny Flakes III, pastor of Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church, called on people in business, politics, medicine, education, the military and the media “to stand up with us to promote and practice at the highest level human dignity, civility, respect, unity, justice and integrity.”
Os Guinness, co-founder of The Trinity Forum: Misunderstandings surround the idea of civility; it’s frequently mistaken for squeamishness about cultural differences, false tolerance or dinner-party etiquette. Classically, civility is a republican virtue, with a small “r,” and a democratic necessity, with a small “d.” It’s the only way you can have a diverse society, freely but civilly, peacefully.
As Christians, we have deeper motivations still [for championing civility]. Followers of Jesus are called to be peacemakers, with truth and grace; Paul asks us to speak the truth with love. We’re called to love our enemies and do good to those who wrong us. This is our Christian motivation for championing the classical virtue of civility.