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CIVILITY, As a Demonstration of Gratitude for Life | Antelope Valley Interfaith Council

Rev. Maxine Schiltz, Revealing Truth

When Gabby Giffords and others were shot in Arizona, 1/8/11, President Obama stressed the importance for American people to develop and use CIVILITY.

What is civility?? In the words of former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates it means “treating everybody with dignity and respect.”

Civility also means more than polite courtesies. It is derived from the Old French and Latin term for “good citizen.” It is an essential component to survive. There is greatness in treating others with respect, compassion, kindness and generosity, so that we can make a difference in the lives of many. This certainly replicates the Golden Rule, a tenet of all religions.

  • Many in our own relationships have not honored the President’s admonishing. Therefore, our own relationships are a microcosm of the great macrocosm. So it is incumbent upon each individual to look at themselves and confront how they behave in their own relationships, thus being an example of civility for those close to them and in my belief in the universe because there is no time and space, the thoughts go out to all who are willing to receive them.
  • Treat all with respect, compassion, kindness and generosity, no matter how you feel at the moment, so that we can make a difference in the lives of ourselves and many.
  • Nurture your social relationships to generate your greatest happiness. As Barbra Streisand sang–”People who need people”, not co-dependently but interdependently.
  • Set boundaries for yourself with lines not be crossed, conveying them gently and softly.
  • Keep a civil tongue. Urge civil discourse with those who do not agree with you–”I have another map of the world,” “I have a different point of view.” Honor the viewpoint of others–it doesn’t call for agreement or approval; just to allow others to differ from you, provided that they do not hurt others.

Examples of what is uncivil, insensitive, inconsiderate:

  • In a group of strangers, a woman had a small hole in her sweater. A gentleman friend saw it and put his finger in it, not only making it larger, but saying in public, “You have a hole in your sweater.” Inappropriate. The woman in good taste let it go in public. I was taught in my early years, “don’t point out a defect to someone when there is nothing one can do about it at the time.” Good lesson, I was always grateful for it.
  • A Christian man who lived in Israel for a time was asked “then why don’t you become Jewish?” Inappropriate.
  • Anyone making stereotypical jokes or glittering generalities of political, ethnic or religious people. Inappropriate.
  • A friend’s adopted son committed suicide. When he mentioned it to a fellow church-goer she responded, “at least it wasn’t your own son.” Inappropriate.
  • A young babysitter treated her young charge in a very demeaning manner. When she told me what she had said to the child, I told her “it was inappropriate. Before you threaten or promise the child a consequence, think–’Is that similar to what I was told by my parents?’ ” with whom she was not pleased as caregivers.
  • Asking anyone personal questions without the caveat of “You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to.” The media does so for I don’t know what. Sensitive people don’t.

Perhaps we all need to think about how we would feel if what we do or say to another were one to us. Let’s become humans acting as though they actually are imbued with humanity and humility.

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