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Will civility become a movement?

The word ‘civility’ gets mentioned frequently during national political campaigns. But those will end in less than six months.

Professor P.M. Forni from Johns Hopkins University, author of ‘Choosing Civility’, has another book due out in June. James, a librarian in Frederick, Maryland, posted a blog entry about Forni’s talk at a library conference. See James' Thangs

Howard County in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. region has been emphasizing civility and could be the starting point of a movement. (Choose Civility in Howard County)

James mentions social intelligence. I listened to part of Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships’ on a road trip several weeks ago and decided I needed to own the book. Right now what sticks in my mind is the ‘Dark Triad’ (the narcissist, the Machiavellian and the psychopath) but there’s good news. “We humans have a built-in bias toward empathy, cooperation and altruism—provided we develop the social intelligence to nurture these capacities in ourselves and others.” Goleman is known for his bestseller ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

Back to why I asked the movement question. I’m reading “The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World’. This book cites movements that have become mainstream. From that book jacket “The Cultural Creatives care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace and social justice, about self-actualization, spirituality and self expression.”

My hope that civility will become a movement was reinforced this weekend when I read ‘Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences’. Author Gilbert Rendle cites work by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe that gives our national history in the cycle of generations. We should be in crisis phase now. This book is about relationships and civility in church and synagogue life.

I think many of us long to leave the isolation and arrogance of individualism and move on to civility, deep respect for others as we work together. Civility should be a movement that goes mainstream.