Putting Civility Back Into Civil Discourse

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to put civility back into civil discourse. And even if I can’t put it back into the general discourse, which became increasingly shrill and at times simply vile during the campaign, I will try to keep my own discourse civil.

I don’t know if I succeeded during the election or not, but I hope I did. I won’t apologize for disagreeing with anyone or for stating my own opinions in sometimes strident terms, but I apologize if anyone feels I attacked them personally.

I think I succeeded in my civil discourse goal the day after the election, in a long conversation with a co-worker. (We were in a car together, so she couldn’t get away from me.) She didn’t like all of the questions I asked her as I tried to pin down the sources of her dissatisfaction with our country, but neither did she accept my invitation to slap me if I went too far. I count that as a success.

(At the risk of putting words in her mouth, I think she believes in the perfectability of our country and perhaps the entire human race. I do not. She admitted to being a glass half full person, whereas in the realm of geopolitics I’m more likely to point out that someone’s going to break the glass sooner or later so we’d better get a towel and a trashcan ready.)

Anyway, I offer as an example an online discussion about how this election may affect the military that I’ve had with my writing friend Dave Klecha on his blog, Bum Scoop. We don’t agree, but we’re not gouging each other’s virtual eyes out, either.

That, I think, is a good start.

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