Recently, House Representative Maxine Water’s exhorted right-minded people to confront President Donald Trump’s cabinet members in public places to protest his unconscionable policy on immigration. (Click) Several Facebook friends agreed. One man remarked if others weren’t outraged enough to do so, they were asleep. Another mocked the notion of “civility” believing high passion justified bull-dog behavior.
When feelings run high, whipping outrage into aggression is easy. It requires no vision only a willingness to press buttons and let the chips fall where they may. Our President is a master at the game. He’s not my role model, however. Civil disobedience has a place in civil society, but I don’t agree with vigilantism. I don’t agree with mob rule. I don’t agree that people who sincerely oppose my views should be treated with disrespect. It’s not okay with me to see a person harassed in a restaurant because that person works for a duly elected official.
A civil society requires civility. Civility. It’s a word that speaks to due process. It’s not an antique term to be mocked as if it were a label reserved for Victorian ladies who fear to dirty their gloves at tea. Without it, there is no society, only chaos. Feelings run deep when children are torn away from their parents. That’s as it should be. But we gain nothing when we tear downs the means for civil discourse and a chance for peaceful resolution. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal,” even those with whom we profoundly disagree.
Perhaps in these tumultuous times, it’s best to turn, not to political leaders, but to artists.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: (“If” by Rudyard Kipling)
Then, you will prove yourself a thinker as well as a patriot.