What is Civility?

Division in the United States is at an all-time high. It’s hard to ignore. It has extended past dislike and, in recent situations, it has resulted in fatal violence. In a 2018 poll on civility in America, 93% of Americans identified civility as a problem in our society. 69% said that it was a major problem. So, what is civility and why is it such a major issue?

In a 2019 interview with NPR, Keith Bybee, the author of How Civility Works, said that “Civility is the baseline of respect that we owe one another in public life. And when people talk about a crisis in civility, they usually are reporting their sense that there is not a shared understanding of what the baseline of respect ought to be.”

Can you relate to that? I can. Whether it be in my personal life, in the classroom, at work, etc., I’ve noticed a change in how people treat each other. The cause for this is often attributed to political ideology and I won’t speculate or assign blame to one group of people. It’s a collective issue that requires collective attention.

A clear and persistent issue, however, is social media. While it has its perks, social media has the unprecedented ability to spread hate and misinformation like wildfire. The ability to hide your identity behind a screen has emboldened some to bully, harass, and lie.

It will take time to tackle this issue. The first step is being able to have honest and productive conversations about the incivility Americans are facing. We have to practice being better to each other. That being said, we’d like you to join us as we dig deeper into civility in the classroom, at work, and in personal endeavors. It starts here.


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