By Bryan Hyde

COMMENTARY -- There is a growing need for a return to civility, not just in politics, but also in virtually every area of modern life.


Whether it’s demonizing those who hold a different point of view or an angry middle finger salute from a passing motorist, rudeness and contempt for one another appear to be on the increase. 

Let’s start by defining what is meant by civility.

Yale Professor Stephen L. Carter says civility is more than just manners and morality, but describes it as, “the sum of many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.”

Carter suggests that one way to restore the civility lacking in our culture is to recognize that our duty to be civil to others does not depend on whether we like them or not.

Civility requires us to listen and respond honestly, and respectfully when differences are encountered. 

Business agreement handshake of man and woman at the office

Instead of seeing others as mere objects or as adversaries to be vanquished, we must be capable of seeing them as human beings deserving of the same respect we would expect for ourselves.

Criticism may be warranted, but it can still be civil in tone. 

Disagreement is sometimes unavoidable, but recognizing the value of another’s point of view in their eyes without resorting to demonizing or belittling goes a long way toward restoring civility.

Elizabeth Lesser advocates taking someone who doesn’t agree with you to lunch and, instead of trying to change their mind, be curious, be conversational, be real. And listen.

* Hyde In Plain Sight is written by KDXU personality Bryan Hyde. Catch his daily HIPS vignette at 7:50-ish every weekday morning on KDXU and listen to The Bryan Hyde Show weekends at 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday nights.

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