I’ve been thinking a lot about civility lately or maybe I should say the lack of it. I see it all the time, everywhere it seems. I watch a disgruntled customer disrespect a server in a restaurant, as though the server were responsible for the over/under cooked food. On the highway, cars dodge in and out of traffic without turn signals as though they are not responsible for alerting their fellow drivers as to their intention to be rude, not to mention dangerous. People use language that used to be reserved for only the worst of enemies like it is the most natural way to converse. And don’t get me started on the recent trend to NEVER slow down on a caution light, but ALWAYS speed through the traffic light AFTER it turns red.
I was thinking, too, about the ways people use the freedom of speech as a vehicle for demeaning others, for spreading falsehoods and making innuendos about people in order to disgrace them. Is this where we have arrived? Even Pope Francis has received his share of disrespect for of all things, advocating for the poor, for children, for women, for refugees and for Muslims; yes, for advocating for the least of these. Caring for the poor is at the heart of the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as well as the Gospel according to Francis. Biblical stories like the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, healing on the Sabbath and the woman caught in adultery exemplify the Christianity espoused by Francis. People are more important than rules. Salvation comes from how we treat other people rather than some blind/strict adherence to a codified set of proscriptions.
Yet, it seems that too many people are concerned only about their own personal needs. Little interest is paid to the needs of others. Laws are made to enhance the wealth of those who are already wealthy and deny benefits to those in need. No one wants to hear the cry of the poor. So, disrespect towards those who acclaim the images of Christian compassion, mercy, healing and love has become a staple. We need to remind those who have forgotten that we are all neighbors, and whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for the Lord.
Government officials, religious leaders, corporate managers, alt-right groups, leftist groups, school bullies and more use social media to demean each other and call into question the ethics, morality, patriotism and faith of others. Disrespect, incivility and intolerance make it hard to see much hope for the future. As Disciples of Christ, we are a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. We are called to bring hope to the world through our words and actions. We need to champion a return to civility, to dialogue, to cooperation in addressing the pressing issues facing the world, the country, our state and our community. We need to start somewhere, soon.
Posted on Tue, October 17, 2017
by Doug Meister