Loose Ends: Civility

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MEEKER | Unfortunately, it appears that we are long past the age of civility. Public and private discourse alike show numerous signs foretelling the extinction of manners. Using some restraint after a heated argument, as well as resisting the urge toward slinging sarcasm are not communication skills we see very often anymore.

Growing up in a large family, I remember reminders from my mother cautioning us all be civil to one another. I knew she wanted us to be able to let go of all the petty arguments that cropped up daily. Exasperated by the constant battles between the five of us, she would throw up her hands and blurt out, “Just be civil, would you?”

It is obvious that not many of us heard it often enough as we were growing up. There were all sorts of unspoken rules for public behavior in every family. Teaching children to show respect to others, as well as helping the youngest among us to understand the importance of kindness, was the norm. It was expected.

The adults in the community modeled these behaviors. They used measured tones, as well a modicum of polite statements. That seemed to be the only way to effectively communicate with each other. They debated vociferously and occasionally some of them seemed to lose control but usually the rest of the participants held their emotions in check.

Learning kindness and showing understanding towards others begins early. Toddlers demonstrate it naturally and are ahead of all of us in so many ways. If practice makes perfect, we would be wise to take some of these old childhood skills out of the closet and brush up on using them regularly.

By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times