Public discourse continues to deteriorate into name calling and “us” vs. “them” categorization. But, unfortunately, we are often guilty of this behavior ourselves. Even as we walk past banners that say “Peace” and “Hope” and “Joy”, those sentiments often feel trite and unreachable. Mostly because of other people.
But, what if we could be different? What if, this holiday season, we committed to a cease fire on dehumanizing each other and, for just a couple of weeks, worked to be civil. I wish this were as easy as simply wishing it to happen, but it is much more difficult than showing the Charlie Brown Christmas Special in the clubhouse.
According to Institute for Civility in Government, civility is “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process… Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements.” As you are well aware, there are people in your office, on your property, in your family, with whom civility does not come easily. But no one else can be civil for you, so why not start with the one person you can actually change—you.
Here’s the challenge—
•Refuse to refer to anyone else in a way that dehumanizes them—in person or in conversation with others.
•Refuse to degrade anyone else’s identity, needs, or beliefs.
•Find areas of agreement and connection and celebrate that.
•Ask questions and genuinely work to understand a viewpoint other than your own.
While it may not bring peace to the whole earth, it may bring peace to those in your circle of influence and it will bring peace to you.
From all of us at CARES,
Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth!