The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civility as “polite, reasonable and respectful behavior”. Many people do not accept that the criterion of a person’s worth is the content of his character, which includes his behavior. Part of being a great character is having good manners. These people don’t push others down to look better. And we should raise our children to show the right values. I’ve seen news clips where even young children laugh at the police. It seems civility is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity these days.
A barometer of civility is road rage. According to the AAA, drivers between the ages of 25 and 39 are more likely to exhibit road rage than other age groups. Road rage is a factor in more than half of fatal crashes. In the 10 years between 2006 and 2015, fatal road rage crashes increased by 500%, from 80 to 467. When someone cuts off a driver in traffic, many aggressive people tend to fight back . This often leads to road rage. Recently, I saw a television report about an enraged woman shooting a handgun at the occupants of another car. Two passengers were injured in this road rage incident.
Incivility is also increasing in politics. In September 2009, Joe Wilson, a Republican congressman from South Carolina, interrupted a speech by President Obama on health care by shouting, “You are lying! He was rightly criticized by members of both parties. Then, in 2018, Rep. Maxine Waters told an audience that “if you see someone from (Trump’s) cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, in a gas station, you go out and you create a crowd. , and you push them away, and you tell them they’re no longer welcome, anywhere!” Next year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a very public presentation during the State of the Union presentation, tore up her copy of Trump’s speech as both houses looked on in disgust, of the judiciary and a large television audience. More recently, Maxine Waters has shown incivility following the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion. She shouted, “Damn the Supreme Court, we’re going to challenge it!”
While I agree with most of President Trump’s policies and actions, he too has repeatedly lacked civility. During the second presidential debate in 2020 with Vice President Joe Biden, Trump constantly interrupted Biden. This incivility may well have been the deciding factor for many in Trump’s very near defeat in the November 2020 election. All the disruption of the invasion of the Capitol on January 6 would then have been avoided.
In an act of incivility following the recent leak of a Supreme Court ruling on abortion, some Democrats have revealed the whereabouts of conservative Supreme Court justices. Protesters against the court’s decision marched past the judges’ houses. A protester has been arrested for carrying a weapon in an alleged assassination attempt. Others were not detained. Demonstrating outside the homes of judges is a violation of section 1507 of title 18 of the Code. This law says: “Anyone who, with intent to obstruct, obstruct or interfere with the administration of justice, or with intent to influence a judge, juror, witness or officer of the court in the performance of his duties, pickets or parades in or near a building of a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judges, jurors, witnesses or officers of the court … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year or both.” These protesters marched past the judges’ residences in an attempt to influence or intimidate the judges’ decision in the final published decision. No one except the man with the gun has been charged under the law, although it is clear that the intention of the protesters was to interfere or intimidate the judges. Their actions were a blatant example of incivility.
Later still, further information about the whereabouts of the judges was published – where they went to eat, or even their churches. When Elizabeth Warren was questioned about spreading this information, she slipped into her car and quickly drove off. Obviously, these buildings (restaurants or churches) were occupied by these judges, and therefore any protesters who showed up were in clear violation of the law of Title 18 of Code Section 1507.
Whatever our position in life, our actions should be respectful, courteous and considerate. In our daily lives we should strive to show the fruits of the Spirit. It is a permanent challenge for all of us.
“A soft answer deflects anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15 v 1.
Peter Gilderson, Madison.