Practicing Civility in an Uncivil Society
I don’t know about you, but I have a growing concern for the lack of civility in our civilization. Do you ever tire of political rants, media tirades, and the exhausting pontifications of celebrities who have somehow become experts in political philosophy?
In Breakpoint, a weekly update from the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, John Stonestreet describes Madonna fantasizing about blowing up the White House and Kathy Griffin displaying a likeness of President Trump’s severed head. Protests at UC Berkeley, Evergreen State and Middlebury colleges erupt into violence and the destruction of property.
Thankfully, people on both sides of the political aisle are beginning to call this out. Frank Bruni, who is about as far left as one can be, writes in the New York Times that “we’re in a dangerous place when it comes to how we view, treat and talk about people we disagree with… What has happened to our discourse, and how do we make necessary progress—when hate is answered by hate, prejudice by prejudice, extremism begets extremism and ostensible liberalism practices illiberalism?”
Those are good questions. And the answer is that progress will never be made until we learn to speak with one another again.
Followers of Jesus should lead the way. As Stonestreet says, “[We need] to see those around us as fellow creations of God in need of reconciliation and restoration, not as enemy combatants… We must never stop proclaiming the truth and getting better ourselves at making the case for that which is true, good and beautiful. And we ourselves have to demonstrate civility, the willingness to talk instead of fight, even if our ideological opponents disagree.”
The Bible also gives us some pretty sound advice: “Let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
Jesus laid the groundwork for all who follow when he said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
And sometimes, the best course of action is this: “Therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2), which includes, by the way, Facebook, Twitter, emails, and texts.
And now I’m going to lead by example… and stop typing. Silence is golden. Shhh.