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Civility: HOME

This libguide will give you access to information on "civility" and a better understanding as to why it is important for us to treat each other with politeness and respect.



Why Civility Matters, Especially Now

       by Liesl Schillinger

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  The "Rules of Civility" was copied down by George Washington when he was about 16 years old.  These are a proverbs and sayings that  originally came from France and were designed to instill social virtues in young people.  These rules are often credited with influencing George Washington in the development of his character.

Civility in America: 2013

Civility in America 2013: Incivility has reached crisis levels


Civility in American continues to erode and rude behavior is becoming our "new normal," according to the fourth annual study on Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey, conducted by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and public affairs firm Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research.

This study found that 70 percent of Americans believe incivility has reached crisis proportions.  With Americans encountering incivility more than twice a day on average (2.4 times per day), and 43 percent expecting to experience incivility in the next 24 hours, dealing with incivility has become a way of life for many.  Additionally, 81 percent of Americans think that incivility is leading to an increase in violence.

Politicians, America's youth, the media and the Internet are assigned most responsibility for the problem.  Most notably, for the first time since the survey began in 2010, the Internet/social media has risen into the top ranks of perceived causes of incivility.  Of those who expect civility to worse in the next few years, 34 percent blame Twitter - a significant rise from 2012.

                                                         Full text of the study



  'Civility' is usually defined as an acceptable level of politeness- a useful conception in itself given the analysis below - but it may be worth considering widening its meaning in the present social climate, especially as there seems to be no established word for the current malaise.  Put in rather abstract terms, civility might be described as an individual's capacity or willingness to orient themselves towards the social.  Part of this orientation relates to an appreciation of and commitment to the public good which, it has been argued elsewhere, is particularly wek and probably weakening in Anglo-Saxon economies.

   However, ...civility needs to be defined somewhat more widely than this.  The current crisis is not simply about an abstract relationship to the public good, but more concretely, about how we relate to and treat others as individuals and as groups of individuals rather than purely as a whole community of which we may be a member.  Most fundamentally, civility is based on an individual's willingness to moderate or accept some constraint on their own desires in order to protect the well-being of others, both when those others are the individuals we may encounter in our daily interactions or when they exist as groups, large or small.  It is a failure of this willingness."

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"So let us begin anew...remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is subject to proof."  John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

"Be nice to people on your way up because you might meet 'em on your way down."   Jimmy Durante -singer, comedian

"Civility costs nothing and buys everything."  Mary Wortley Montagu, English Writer

"Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none."  Benjamin Franklin

"The Civility which money will purchase, is rarely extended to those who have none."  Charles Dickens, English novelist

"Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Politeness is the art of choosing among one's real thoughts."  Adlai Stevenson - Politician

"Politeness has become so rare that some people mistake it for flirtation."  Makki Aranets

"While the scars of the monstrous Civil War still remain, the wounds have closed since 1865, in large part because of the civility of Grant and Lee".  Douglas Brinkley, Author

"Our political debates today are corrosive and not reflective of the belief that Abe Lincoln espoused back in his day: that we are a great country because we are a good country"   Jon Huntsman Jr. - Former Governor of Utah

"Civility is not about dousing strongly held views.  It's about making sure that people are willing to respect other perspectives"  Jim Leach - Academic and former Politician