Let’s be Civil

My hope in starting this blog, is to share ideas in the areas of civil discourse and a more rational approach to discussing and working through issues. Let me say, I make no claim to be an expert. I intend to share my opinions (distinguishable from edicts and maxims) and hope to solicit other perspectives. Thus the name of the site / blog — the plural was meant to include varying perspectives from multiple sources. From multiple perspectives we can generate new or refined approaches – or at a minimum, additional insights. I hope to spur dialogs – and even dialogs about having rational dialogs.  I expect the blog/site to morph  and grow over time, and to include various topics.

Some Initial Thoughts

I think the notion of civil discourse is fading from our society. A number of the hallmarks of civil discourse seem to be missing from a lot of our exchanges. I intend to do posts on various facets, posing some ideas and alternatives for consideration. I will highlight a couple thoughts here — just to get started.

Topping the list is being civil (or not). It seems we are more prone now, than in the past, to get off-topic and into attack mode. And we do so all too quickly.  There is an awful lot of name calling, blaming, and elevated emotions in place of connecting with the humanity in the other(s) and/or actually solving a problem.

A close second is a missing willingness to “agree to disagree.” In my opinion, and I do not think I am alone, polarization is growing. Not just in politics, but in people’s individual positions and approaches. I see an awful lot of win-or-lose thinking taking place. “Conclusion” of an argument, a civil one, used to mean: 1) coming to an agreement, which may include compromise; 2) agreeing to disagree, or 3) deferring with a commitment to reconvene in order to get to 1 or 2. Option 2 bespeaks tolerance, and a lack of it denotes the opposite. Perhaps tolerance is too uncomfortable.

Third, and core to all of this, is a diminished rationality in our approach. We are absolutely entitled to our feelings. We are emotional creatures. Along with that, we possess the ability to pause and organize our thoughts, then respond, instead of simply reacting. Some may disagree – saying reactions are “only natural” and indeed reacting is natural and common. Charged reactions increase the likelihood of a counter-reaction – and a spiraling escalation that is not productive. We can overcome the knee-jerk reactivity with mindfulness and practice.  In doing so, we can improve the odds of a successful exchange and reaching a conclusion  — as defined above.

I think that is a fair start.

More in my next post.