×

Letter: We’re losing our civility


Sunday, July 08, 2018

George Washington was known as a remarkably talented, modest and courteous man. He was a commanding figure and a leader, and to him character and civility mattered.

During his school years, one exercise helped shape Washington’s actions for the remainder of his life. He copied all 110 maxims for proper behavior, in Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, and he lived by them.

If only we would follow such rules of civility today. Instead we are subjected to a daily barrage of the coarsening of our society. Vile personal attacks are launched against persons with whom we disagree, with language unfitting a great culture. And somehow it’s made its way into the mainstream of our society; even accepted as appropriate in some circles – as long as it’s directed to members of the opposition.

But insulting and impolitic behavior towards our fellow human beings is not acceptable. It is reprehensible and it cheapens our daily conversation. Our society has fallen a long way when a young college intern thinks it’s acceptable to yell an obscenity at the President of the United States, and a member of Congress incites her followers to verbally and physically harass public servants and their families while they engage in ordinary and private activities.

Civility rule number one of the maxims which President Washington lived by says that “Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.” Respect, of course, is the operative word.

Stephen Monier

Goffstown