Archive for June 6th, 2010

Uncivil discourse

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

In a culture where the sarcastic put-down is so greatly admired, is it possible to regain civility?  The May 2010 issue of The Covenant Companion is introducing a new series on civility.  The article  “Civility and the Road Less Travelled” by Daniel de Roulet is worth a read.

To get to Civility

That issue of the Companion also included a thought-provoking column “Why so hostile?” by John E. Phelan Jr.,  including this paragraph:

… differences of opinion do not distress or alarm me. Quite the contrary. Were our differences quashed, ignored, or minimized, then I would be alarmed. What alarms and distresses me is the hostility surrounding our differences of opinion. Our political and religious discourse has devolved into a wasteland of hostility. Murderous scorn is poured over opponents as if they deserved no respect or consideration for, if nothing else, their common humanity. Persons who temporize or try to see the good in another or their position are considered weak and contemptible. Ideological purity is required. Woe to the person who says something good about President Bush or President Obama, about Pope Benedict or Pat Robertson, about the Methodists or the Pentecostals, about the fundamentalists or the liberals. As poet Thomas John Carlisle put it: “I hate God’s enemies / with perfect hatred. / Why can’t God / do as much?

I’ve been as guilty as most of lacking civility in my discussions about issues about which I feel strongly, but articles like the above are convicting me, and hopefully tempering my speech.