I was reading a recent interview on school board elections in the Tennessean newspaper and saw this question: “Will you commit to being civil in how you present yourself and the way you interact with opponents and others? (Our definition of civility is being a good, active, honest and respectable citizen.)”
How appropriate because civility is a word that sometimes takes a backseat to an “I want what I want and I’ll say or do whatever it takes to win” mindset that is killing our souls at the root, and too often is a novel idea that may have gone the way of the covered wagon.
Civility is technically the art of being kind, respectful, and behaving like you have home training, as my grandmother would say. The interviews offered several questions before it got to that one so we could see if the candidates were really practicing what they said.
The interviewees seemed highly qualified and handily showed they understood the concept but I’m wondering if too many citizens and politicians have forgotten what civility looks and feels like, though the newspaper’s definition left no doubt or confusion about the expectations.
Being “a good, active, honest and respectable person,” looks much like the Golden Rule we were taught at home, church, and school in the olden days, or “treat others like you want to be treated.”
A lovely twist I learned a few years back goes “treat people the way they want to be treated,” but my new mantra, however, is “treat others the way God treats you,” which puts the ball in a whole other court
For me it means God gives us grace, patience, and new mercies every morning. The least we can do is the same with our friends and loved ones.
Further, in this political climate, we should seek to elect servant leaders, folks who will treat others in a godly way, who will walk a mile in their constituents’ moccasins before they make rules and oppressive laws to hamper forward progress of those they represent.
I’m hoping and praying for elected officials who listen to hear and understand and who operate under the premise that every child deserves attentive parents and a clean, safe environment at home, school, church, the community—every place, and that’s the only agenda.
The loyalty that comes along with civility must mean people come before party and if we get that wrong, nothing else matters. Once we elect people to represent us, we must remember to mirror our expectations.
We must remember that opinions are like noses—everybody has one—and we shouldn’t show out and act ugly when things don’t go our way. Through news reports I’ve seen the lack of civility played out in the aftermath of the 2020 elections and the pandemic-inspired shutdowns and mask requirements.
The Lord knows I understand being enthusiastic about whatever the topic is, but some of us forgot that we were “good, active, honest and respectable citizens.” Instead, we showed chaos and hatred, all in the name of “raising our voices,” and “having our say.”
Civility has to be our common goal. We cannot survive as a people, as communities, as a nation without it. We cannot lose control and take to the streets in mob fashion. We cannot teach our children respect when we show disrespect to them, other adults, elected officials, or to the systems that allow civility to flourish and grow.
As the midterm elections quickly approach, I pray we, too, ask and answer this civility question, then prepare to faithfully live into it.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.