Civility … thoughtful dialogue

Perspective for your consideration …
What does it look like when it’s fixed…?

“Committed to getting past the narrow partisanship of contemporary politics and rebuilding a tradition of thoughtful dialogue and political civility.” … Mickey Edwards

As I listened on the radio to the alleged presidential debate on Tuesday evening I was forcibly struck by what appeared to me to be near utter contempt in the tone and tenor of these men asking to be considered as our – leader. The veil of civility was hanging by a mere thread as they skewered, sliced and diced into each other.

I suspect this played well in Arizona, where, thanks to the thoughtful action of our Governor and State Legislature we endorse with open arms the civility of those choosing to engage in “cage-fighting.”

I realize the term – debate – has been politicized and is not truly used in its precise context but rather euphemistically, to create the illusion that under the guise of debate politics as usual will be conducted.

I don’t know about you, but what resonated clearly, concisely and understandably is how polarized we are in America. Tragically we permit words and their meaning to be defined in the spur of the moment, by any party, to prove any point, and why…? Because we have for these past 30 year or more allowed others to do all the thinking for us. They define the game, make up the rules on the fly, without any oversight from us, divide us, separate us and define us all to dominate and control us.

It might be worth considering a position espoused by the National Civility Center … which notes the foundation of any community is the quality of its relationships and levels of trust between people and across its institutions. Building relationships and increasing levels of trust is the cornerstone to the community improvement process. In order to do this, communities must engage in civil behavior and dialogue.
Guy Burgess, Ph.D. and Heidi Burgess, Ph.D. …Co-Directors, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado … wrote in 1997 … “The increasingly vocal campaign for civility in public discourse reflects an understandable and widespread frustration with the current tenor of political debate. There is a growing realization that our inability to deal with broad range of problems is largely attributable to the destructive ways in which the issues are being addressed. This raises a crucial and increasingly controversial question–what exactly do we mean by “civility”? … In short, any reasonable definition of civility must recognize that the many differing interests which divide our increasingly diverse society will produce an endless series of confrontations over difficult moral and distributional issues. Often these issues will have an irreducible win-lose character and, hence, not be amenable to consensus resolution. While continuing confrontation is inevitable, the enormous destructiveness which commonly accompanies these confrontations is not”.
While some long for the “good-old-days” which is truly but a mirage, the world in which we now live is, though many continue to choose not to believe, utterly interdependent. And to successfully survive in this new environment an honorable self promoted degree of civility is required, lest we return to the darker days of war and more war and still more war to the annihilation of the all of mankind.

It would seem that it would be to our selfish best interest to elect leaders at all levels from school boards, to county boards of commissioners/supervisors, governors, state legislators, federal congressmen and senators, sheriffs, marshals, and boards controlling your water and power, individuals with the capacity to honestly choose to engage in open discourse in an atmosphere of civility. For as pointed out in 1977, often these issues will have an irreducible win-lose character and, hence, not be amenable to consensus resolution. While continuing confrontation is inevitable, the enormous destructiveness which commonly accompanies these confrontations is not
This notion of …amenable to consensus resolution …is one that many of you are aware is near and dear to my heart, though it remains extremely problematical in the hallowed halls of governmental regulation and bureaucracy. In these environments the mantra remains, divide and conquer, separate, convolute and non-disclosure which can only lead to further polarization.
Civility is transforming creating an atmosphere in which the views, positions, observations, opinions and analysis of others will honorable be considered, valued and assessed. Civility is in today’s world counter intuitive as we embrace “speed” and actions taken and achieved expeditiously, though often later deemed capriciously. Civility requires we make and allow the – time – for everyone’s view to be heard before rushing headlong into decision. This time factor is a source of incalculable distress for many still clinging to the notion that time is an enemy. Time in our current contemporary illusion is seen as either friend or foe, for many, with no “gray” as either or, black or white. But is that true…?

Might discourse conducted under honoring terms of civility produce understanding to which the all of man can choose to “buy-into” leading to the probability of a longer period of unified thought and action. The haste of our contemporary decision making environment coupled with its lack of civility has not to this point produced results which are proving beneficial to the all of mankind.
The civility which money will purchase is rarely extended to those who have none. ..Charles Dickens

And let me be even a bit bolder, I am most willing to present and discuss any water issue before any audience in Arizona where open full disclosure and two way dialog is permitted.