Vocabulary.com defines civility as “the act of showing regard for others by being polite, like the civility you showed in speaking kindly to someone who has hurt your feelings.Civility comes from the Latin word civilis, meaning “relating to public life, befitting a citizen,” in other words, being friendly and nice to everyone. When you show civility, you use kindness and good manners. You are respectful, even if you do not like that person very much”.
I am beginning this blog with a whole lot of definition about one word. As I read and watch how people are talking about others or interacting with others it seems to me that there is a deficient of civility going on. In order to completely understand what this word means it required a whole lot of definition.
In Rochester, NY, where I reside the local Channel 10 has begun a #BeNicer campaign specifically designed to target social media. The reason behind for this is that many of their newscasters had been on the receiving end of cyberbullying. Channel 10 wanted to take a positive action to help promote niceness. Yep niceness. Yes niceness needs to be promoted because there is a lack of it.
In an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Robert W. Fuller (February 17, 2010) he talks about rankism, which is when people who think they are “somebody” put down those they feel are “nobody”. He talks how rankism is a form of superiority. Dr. Fuller states:
“As we target rankism, we create a world of dignity for all, not just for some at the expense of others. As we disallow rankism, we build a dignitarian world, a world in which, regardless of rank, everyone experiences equal dignity.”
I want a world of equal dignity for all.
Think about the manner in which you speak to or write about others. Think about the manner of what you read online what people say and write to each other. Think about the manner in what your internal self talk is saying to you. Look at the community of people in your life. How do they talk and treat one another.
Part of this problem is our personal lack of self worth, value. If you are putting someone down it means you are NOT feeling emotionally good about yourself. Let me repeat. If you are putting someone down it means you are NOT feeling emotionally good about yourself. You are not feeling like you matter in the world,
Part of the problem is that we use the cloak of smoke and mirrors of secrecy in our online presence to feel that we can say anything about anyone and they won’t know who said it. You will NEVER EVER feel better about the person you are by demeaning, putting down, criticizing, shaming some one else. NEVER.
Part of the problem is there are is a lot of them vs us going on in the world around us who model this behavior. We are witness to leaders, public figures, people in the grocery store who are not communicating and treating others in a civilized, dignified manner. Who is the them and who is the us. What is the fight?
No one is winning. We the people are losing.
When someone puts someone down in a demeaning manner the impact is a two way street. Victims are impacted emotionally and psychologically. There is a toll. Adults who were bullies as a kid or bully as adults have an increased risk for antisocial personality disorder, depression, and anxiety.
This caustic, demeaning, uncivilized behavior, words, actions of attacking another person deflates and defeats everyone.
Sally Kohn stated in her TED talk about the Culture of Hate “study after study after study that says, no, we are neither designed nor destined as human beings to hate, but rather taught to hate by the world around us. I promise you, none of us pops out of the womb hating black people or Republicans. There is nothing in our DNA that makes us hate Muslims or Mexicans. For better or for worse, we are all a product of the culture around us. And the good news is, we’re also the ones who shape that culture, which means we can change it.”
You know what my favorite line from this talk is? That we ARE the ones who shape our culture, which means we can change it! Woohoo great balls of fire!
Every single one of us has a ripple effect in our world around us. Everyone. You are the core of your ripple, your culture, your world. Begin with working on yourself. Start responding, reacting, and engaging with everyone in your life in a civilized manner even when you do not agree with what they are saying or doing. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Engage with the world around you. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Treat others with compassion and kindness. Be civilized.
I have hope we the people can begin changing back to a more civilized, respectful, kinder world. It is already happening, yet we don’t always hear about it. Here are examples:
- In England 5000 wonderful, caring humans stood in the rain for HOURS to see if they were a stem cell match for a 5 year old girl battling cancer.
- Amazing Carrie Jernigan of Alma, Arkansas bought 1500 pair of shoes from a Payless shoe store that was closing to give to those in need.
- Dr. Sanduk Ruit hiked all over Nepal to perform cataract surgeries on blind people so they could see again.
- Automakers such as Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW signed an agreement with California Air Resources Board to make more fuel efficient, earth friendly cars.
- Remarkable Michale Peña created a more culturally diverse program with UC-Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford University.
These are a few examples from last week. Yep last week!
I believe in you and I believe in us. Be kind and nice to yourself. Do things like get good sleep, eat healthy foods, and fit in some exercise. Talk to yourself with kind, empowering, supportive words. It may feel weird at first. It will make a difference if you stick with it. Shut up the put down, shaming critical comments about others. Remember ANYTHING we are hurling at others is something somewhere we are hurling at ourselves. By changing your thinking thoughts you can change your feelings.
Be kind and compassionate to others. Listen to what someone is saying, especially when it is with someone you do not agree with and you do not like what they are saying. You have the power to change how a conversation goes by your words. Use your power for good. For the other person and for yourself. It may not be easy. It will be worth it.
Civility is not gone. It is still a powerhouse of action everyone of us can take in our day to day lives. I can, you can, we all can be civilized.
“So let us begin anew – remembering both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate our of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems that divide us.” John F. Kennedy
May your civility be with you💜
Photo by Andres Tummons on Upsplash