Let’s Have More Civility … But Is this possible under current circumstances?

In our local paper they did an Op-Ed advocating that we should do a better job of working together as a country. In that piece they cited a meeting of some prior US Presidents, where a public statement was generated. In it there were the expected platitudes — like there needs to be more civility across the board…

So, what are the major prerequisites for civility? They appear to be:

  1. honesty,
  2. competence with the topic being discussed,
  3. open-mindedness,
  4. politeness,
  5. 5being thick-skinned, and
  6. similar overall values and objectives.

Put another way, how can you have a civil communication with a person who:

  1. is dishonest?
  2. has little competence with the topic being discussed?
  3. is close-minded?
  4. is rude and insulting?
  5. easily takes offense?
  6. has radically different values and objectives?

This is a good explanation (from 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.”

All this sounds good, but they never mention honesty! My 2¢ is that without HONESTY, nothing else matters!

Although I looked up multiple definitions of “civility” from a wide variety of Internet sites, I was struck by the fact that honesty was almost never mentioned as a necessary ingredient for civility.

To me, dishonesty is the crux of the discord that has been sewn into our society. It is impossible to have any kind of civil discussion with people who outright lie.

Of course those who are guilty of this dishonesty, frequently resort to accusing the truth-tellers of lying. So we get into he-says/she-says diatribes, or excruciating discussions about minutia like “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

Another version of dishonesty is HYPOCRICY. A plethora of examples abound: a person who preaches tolerance, but is intolerant of those who disagree with him; an environmentalist who advocates for environmentally destructive policies (e.g., industrial wind energy); politicians who claim to be about unity, but are promoting division; media that calls for objectivity, while being exceptionally biased; religious clergy who have little respect for their religion’s dogmas; public education advocates who send their children to private schools; celebrities who denounce materialism, but live in excess. Etc., etc.

I’ve often heard foolish statements (from legislators, school administrators, business executives, scientists, etc.) and the natural response is: “This person is either incompetent or dishonest. Or both.”

The two main contributors to this explosion of dishonesty are: 1) a poor K-12 education system that focuses on political correctness, not Critical Thinking, and 2) a major decline in adherence to Judeo-Christian values that America was built on.

The poor education has resulted in widespread incompetence, as most K-12 graduates can only process soundbites, have memorized politically correct positions, and have essentially no ability to do Critical Thinking. As adults they are keenly aware that they really understand very little about anything, so they cover that deficiency by robotic recitation of politically correctisms (“but we need to save the world”), and when that stops working they resort to making stuff up (aka lying).

Added to this, the rapid decline in traditional values has made things like the Ninth Commandment seem to be as archaic as getting around with a horse and buggy. The new set of standards is Relativism, which basically means that you can set whatever standards you like — the hell with everyone else. This mentality includes such gems as “the end justifies the means” which not only opens the door for lying, but honors it as a righteous effort to bring about your personal beliefs.

What a mess!

We need to stop and think every so often about whether the path we (and our society) are on, are in our best interest? Yes, almost everybody is doing it — so that must make it OK, right? No. That’s what the Pied Piper and the Emperor’s Clothes are all about.

Did we learn anything in Kindergarten?

Let’s take some quiet time and give some thought to all this…

Here are other materials by this scientist that you might find interesting:

Check out the Archives of this Critical Thinking substack.

WiseEnergy.orgdiscusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.

C19Science.infocovers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.

Election-Integrity.infomultiple major reports on the election integrity issue.

Media Balance Newsletter: a free, twice-a-month newsletter that covers what the mainstream media does not do, on issues from COVID to climate, elections to education, renewables to religion, etc. Here are the Newsletter’s 2023 Archives. Please send me an email to get your free copy. When emailing me, please make sure to include your full name and the state where you live. (Of course, you can cancel the Media Balance Newsletter at any time – but why would you?

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