The Crisis and Rules of Civility - Dr. Kathleen Hall - Mindful Living Network
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The Crisis of Civility

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Our Current State of Incivility

It is the weekend after the Kavanaugh confirmation, and most of us feel as if we have been through a mental tornado. The anger, frustration, and vitriol in our country were at epic proportions. I was so upset by the entire war I could not turn on the news in the last week. Everyone was yelling, arguing, and disrespecting each other. No one is listening to anyone anymore.

It did not start with Kavanaugh or Trump for that matter. This descent into barbarism and the evaporation of civility began long ago in our country. Throughout history, politics has been volatile and cruel. But we have allowed our culture to reach a new low in civility.

What Does Civility Have to do With Mindfulness?

We don’t use the word civility much anymore. Civility means respect, good manners, politeness, and courteousness. I believe civility is at the heart of mindfulness and the societal movement toward mindful living.

Mindfulness is the awareness that every thought, word, and emotion affects you, your society and the environment. Every thought, word, and action you expend creates a ripple in the world of cause and effect and karma. Mindfulness is the living, breathing Golden Rule, “In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Living mindfully, committed to a life of civility, can create a life of meaning, purpose, and happiness.  

Civility is the Root of a Civilization

The root of every healthy, prosperous civilization is civility. Public discourse, personal interactions, and your own self-worth and happiness depend on civility. The decline of our civilization is at hand. When we no longer respect others different from ourselves, we are doomed. We disrespect others opinions and their lives. Also, we don’t listen to each other. We respond to others with apathy or anger these days. Our families, our country and our world is also fractured. What can we do to turn down the volume, open our hearts, open our ears, and really listen with respect?

The Resurrection of Civility

Let’s try some Christian imagery. We have lived through the crucifixion and death of civility in our country divided by hate, anger, and fear. It is time for the resurrection of civility. If each one of us made a sincere commitment from our heart to bring civility into our lives, everything would change. We would not believe the same ideologies, and we would still have our differences, but we would be respectful, courteous and kind. We could listen to each other’s fears, pain, and grievances along with our dreams, goals, and plans for the future.

Some Simple Steps To Our Resurrection

  1. Practice the golden rule. In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s one of the key rules of civility.
  2. Practice mindfulness. Become aware of your every thought, word, and action. Every single thought, word, and action creates an effect in our world. What are you creating? Are you dividing or uniting us? Are you creating love and healing or anger and fear? This is another one of the rules of civility.
  3. Deep listening. Stop talking. Listen to the other person’s opinion. Be respectful no matter what they say. Look into the person’s eyes and listen deeply.
  4. Kindness. Kindness is contagious. People will always remember your kindness.
  5. Take the high road. When someone goes low, you go high. This is a spiritual practice that takes lowering your reactive emotions.
  6. Begin now. From this moment on, choose to watch the news with less judgment. Be kinder to your neighbors and coworkers. Respect others at the grocery store, gas station, school, and work. The time for the resurrection of civility is now.

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