A lack of civility
Asage was asked what he thought of civilization. He replied, “It is a very good idea. Someone should start one.” At present, America would not be a good model.
Civility is the lost art of this century. A generation has emerged that has little or no regard for decorum, protocol, tradition, manners — in general, civility.
Civility is defined as “a polite action or expression; courtesy, politeness.”
It is the root from which comes the word civilization. Without it, a civilization deteriorates.
There is not just a division in America, there is a schism, which is defined as “division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.” Not only is America divided right and left. Each of these divisions consists of many diverse groups who don’t even get along. There is rarely an occasion when all members of a faction are satisfied.
It is not just the punks of society that are not showing civility, it has been dramatically demonstrated by members of Congress. The Kavanaugh hearings gave every strata of society an opportunity to demonstrate it, and they did.
The gross lack of civility was demonstrated during the vote of Brett Kavanaugh by Congress. People who had to promise to abide by the rules of decorum in order to get into the chamber disrupted the voting by well-designed protests from the gallery.
Lacking mutual respect among opponents can eventually lead to anarchy. The one thing that can bring us back to a more unified body is the one thing we want least. Historically, national disasters have united us, and no one wants that. Traditionally, during such times, the nation in general has rallied around the one uniting force, God. Political strategist Lee Atwater com- mented, “We must be made to speak to the spiritual vacuum at the heart of America.”
Lincoln did it in his era: “Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon ... ”
Such a voice today would be shouted down and the very character of the spokesman derided and their intellect questioned.
There have been times in America when conditions were as bad as today and the nation was revived an renewed. Between 1714 and 1770 there was a religious and social awakening. Between 1790-1820 a broad spread frontier revival broke out.
From 1890 to 1920, the social and gospel movement brought America to its moral values.
In the late 1930s, Nazism was rampant in America. Great pro-Nazi rallies were held in arenas such as Madison Square Garden. Streets were flooded with Nazi sympathizers. The looming war brought America on its knees and revival resulted. The fact it has happened means it can happen. The fact it did happen does not mean it will happen.
We are blessed to live in a land where freedom of speech is guaranteed, as is the right to engage in peaceful protest. However, these rights do not give liberty to exercise these rights in the extreme ways being demonstrated.
For America to be made to “speak to the spiritual vacuum,” it must begin with those people committed to spiritual values and predisposed to civility. Speak up.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of
Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.