Is Civility Dead?
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Civility is certainly missing in the contentious accusations going back and forth between the two political parties in Washington, DC. Civility is also absent in the aggressive Brexit debates in the UK. This lack of civility is not reserved for politicians. It is on full display all over Facebook, Twitter and other social media. It is creeping into every aspect of life. Something is wrong! Has everyone abandoned Christian principles and the precepts Jesus taught? What can be done? Please read more…..
Psychological studies show us that mental and physical health are negatively impacted when social, work and family environments are uncivil. Uncivil behavior has become a pandemic. Is there a cure? Yes, and it starts when each of us returns to following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Author C. S. Lewis once said, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses, for in him also Christ truly hides—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory himself.” Assuming this is true, everyone must seek to see the Christ who is present in others and treat them with the respect they deserve.
If we want to bring civility back to society, we must begin with the understanding that God dwells in each of us. Romans 8:9 tell us this, “But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?”
When we take a closer look at the Bible, we read this in John 14:20 “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” Let that sink in. Jesus is in us, and we are to be in Him. In fact, we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 6:19. It seems like this reality has all but been forgotten. It is evident, based on words and actions, that people are not treating others as temples of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us in John 15:12 “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Paul goes on to teach us in Romans 12:9-10 “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” In Galatians 5:14 he writes, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
As if loving one another isn’t hard enough to do, Jesus raises the bar even higher when He teaches us to love our enemies too (Matthew 5:43-48).
Amazing things happen when people see the good in one another. At the height of the Cold War, we saw that when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev got to know each other during several meetings, a personal rapport developed. Even though they held vastly different world views, a friendship developed and as a result, the hostilities lessened, and a nuclear treaty was signed.
In a similar way Ronald Reagan, a Republican and Tip O’Neal, a Democrat bridged their political differences and came together for the good of the country. If civility is possible between waring nations and bitter political opponents, we know it is possible for everyone else.
As Christians we profess our faith in only one God. None of us is divine, but as C.S. Lewis points out in his book “The Weight of Glory,” there is divine in all of us. Perhaps as Christians, we can lead the charge to return civility and Christ-like love to our world. Jesus taught us to treat others as God treats us. Do we? Jesus exemplified this love in how He lived. Now it is up to us to decide. Will our actions and words, in all our relationships, either in person or on social media, reflect to others true Christian values? If we each answer yes to this question, we will change the world one small action at a time.
Heavenly Father give me the courage to always love others as you love me, even when we strongly disagree. Amen!
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars.
On December 6-8, 2019, I will be leading a 3 day Advent Retreat. Catholics as well as non-Catholics are welcome to attend. Fr. Ed Sheridan will join us to celebrate Catholic mass and Reconciliation will be available. Author Joseph Galloway will be giving a talk about his book The Broken Door and will be signing books. The retreat is being held at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory, NC. It’s beautiful! I hope you can join us. Click this link to sign up.
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Thanks for this. I cannot even talk politics with some people without an explosive reaction. This has effected our relationships. I’m praying that we learn to recognize the presence of God in others, in mutual respect and civility.
Brian: I think some of the comments in this article would fit into our upcoming retreat. Jim
I think so too! God Bless.
The timing of this news article could not have been better to add to my point on the lack of civility in the world today. The article talks about the backlash Ellen DeGeneres received because she sat next to former President Bush at a football game. Basically she states that people should be able to be friendly with someone who the have differences with. It makes an interesting read.