January 29

Civility

Thomas Spath and Sandra Dahnke, Founders of the Institute for Civility in Government have stated, “Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else in the process”. They further state that “Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same”.

One of the major breakdowns in the operation of deliberative bodies (remaining civil) is the inability or the refusal of persons to listen or give any merit to the position of others. The elected official representing us at all levels of government should be open-minded in the deliberative process and understand that the other party might express positions that have merit and deserve serious consideration. A proposal should not be automatically opposed or rejected because of the person or persons presenting or supporting the proposal. Elected officials need to truly listen both to their constituents and other elected officials and make their decisions based upon the merits of the proposal — not on the sponsor.