“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”
– Pier Massimo Forni
As we venture ever deeper into this election cycle, lots of thoughts occur to me daily, but at some point during each day I find myself thinking about how intense and vitriolic the conversations in and around politics in general and the presidential primary process in particular have become. I read news stories of reporters being threatened and almost attacked while attempting to do their jobs, voters being put out of rallies, candidates calling each other names, mocking each other, and so much more that I am sure I have blocked from my memory. No one appears safe.
The vitriol does not appear to be contained to just the candidates but has spread to the voting populace. Each day social media is filled with citizens making the case for their candidate (which is a good thing. I LOVE to see so many people watching, thinking, and involved in the process.), but it is also filled with such disdain and disrespect for other candidates and for people’s choice to support a different candidate. Social media has made it much easier to access and share information as well our opinions about almost everything. The ability to share and have access to an audience that is choosing to engage (even if minimally, i.e. just reading your posts without responding) is powerful. With power comes great responsibility. We are responsible for what we put out into the world through our words. We can disagree and on many levels we must disagree, but we can do so without being disagreeable. Disagreement does not have to be accompanied by anger, malice, and denigration. There is room for various viewpoints to be expressed, but my concern is for the atmosphere that is left after the hard fought primary season is over. Will there be enough civility and good will left among us to bring us all back to the same table united behind the candidate ( whatever your side) that has been chosen by the primary process?
“We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.”
– Dwight Currie
About Bethany Miller
Bethany is currently assistant director of institutional research & assessment at a small private liberal arts college. Bethany is a native Mississippian and proud graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. Bethany is an avid reader who is passionate about education, healthcare, and social justice. She is an alumni of the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Institute Political & Leadership Bootcamp.