This late at night backdated post brought to you by a late evening nap and a general sense of relief that some of my bloodwork came back with good results. I’m still waiting for me but this afternoon’s mail brought decent news. Relieved sleep is good sleep.
It’s still Thursday on the west coast so I’m still counting this as Day 7’s post.
I am taking a class in Mass Media this semester. I love reading about the media and analyzing their coverage of prior events. The excerpt I’m sharing with you tonight comes from the final section of my second homework assignment in which we were asked if we agree with Daniel Sullivan’s assertion that an important part of a modern college education is learning civility.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed I have a strong opinion about this. In the paragraphs that follow I share my reasoning for why civility is society’s only answer to saving the world.
I absolutely agree with Sullivan’s assertion that it is of the utmost importance that students leave college more skilled at civility than when they arrived. In his article “Milton’s Areopagitica and Freedom of Speech on Campus,” Daniel Sullivan writes, “Though it happens too rarely, I am always heartened when I hear someone say, “Gee, I never thought of it that way before.”” The article also defines civility as “… challenging ideas as strenuously as you wish, while refraining from attacking people (as individuals or groups).” Gee, I never thought of it that way before; those 9 words are going to save the world, as is the ability to challenge ideas without tearing others down. Thousands of years from now the history books are going to write of brilliant men and women who sat down at a table with differing ideas and worked together to solve climate change and to create newer, safer and cleaner energies.
In “Legally Blonde” I heard the quote, “The law is reason, free from passion.” I admit I had to Google this quote to learn it’s actually a quote from Aristotle, but in my mind it best gives voice to Sullivan’s assertion. Without the ability to civilly work together to solve problems the world is headed to hell in a handbasket. Case in point? There have been something like 40 votes to defund Obamacare. Right now it’s attached to a vote to keep the government running. The absolute insistence on being right and winning has by an overwhelming margin become the norm. The absolute insistence on being right and winning puts an outright stop to discussion and learning from one another. Civility, the ability to challenge an idea but not entirely shut out the other person’s thoughts and ideas is our best chance at solving the world’s problems. Imagine if Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Paul Ryan sat down in a room and left their egos at the door and said, there are unemployed, uninsured, and hungry people in our nation let’s fix that. Imagine if during campaign years Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly hosted a series of election specials civilly spelling out the details of each candidate’s platform. Perhaps with civility being the norm we’d have less hungry children and a more informed electorate.
Margaret Mead may believe a small committed group of people can change the world but I passionately believe civility will save the world. It’s the only thing that can.