A lack of ci­vil­ity

The Standard Journal - - EDITORIALS & OPINION -

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.


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