The American Republic has always been a little, well, rowdy. However, our public discourse has, of late, become increasingly incendiary, and we appear to be headed toward a new tribalism. Most of us sense this. According to recent polling, approximately 70% of Americans believe that incivility is a major problem in the country.
This has led to or, at least, is evidenced by recent racially and religiously-motivated shootings (such as the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting), political leaders pragmatically dispensing with civility in favor of hard-ball tactics, and the inability of neighbors to have conversations rather than arguments.
So, what should we do about it? Here’s the simple but not easy response: we should lead in or model civil discourse with those we deeply disagree with. As Christians, we should be champions of civility in our communities (Eph. 4:15).
In this podcast episode, I discuss practical ideas and concepts concerning civility with Michael Johnson, a public policy analyst, an advocate for Christian ideas in public life (including several media appearances) and a former member of his community’s Commission on Human Rights (a position he was appointed to specifically because of his example of civility).
- The basics of civility
- The bases of civility
- The benefits of civility
- Our society has hollowed out (we have exchanged ours sense of religious identity for an identity based in a socio-political tribe). Therefore, when you challenge someone’s political idea, you are challenging their identity.
- Once people are exposed to rudeness, research tells us that they are three times less likely to help others and their willingness to share drops by more than half.
- Michael explains his personal “Rules of Engagement,” which are awesome. You can download a copy here: Basics-of-Civility-Rules-of-Engagement.pdf
- Michael discusses why civility is still the best strategy for Christians in public life.