And properly so. Our right to speak freely is guaranteed by those five glorious words in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law ....” And yet, the need for civility has never been greater. Our nation is divided as never before between the left and the right. We are at loggerheads on profoundly important political and social questions. Civilization itself is under barbaric attack from without.
Sadly, too many us are not rising to these challenges as a democratic people. Rather than helping to reverse this decline, the rising chorus of incivility is driving out citizens of honest intent and encouraging those who trade in jeering and mockery.
If we are to prevail as a free, self-governing people, we must first govern our tongues and our pens. Restoring civility to public discourse is not an option. It is a necessity.
Who will begin the restoration of civility? It falls to all of us to help revive this important virtue.
There’s a world of difference between attacking a person’s argument and attacking a person’s character. We need to do more to respect that difference. To engage in rational debate and either hold our own or lose with grace.
We must defend our convictions with all the spirit we can. But we should do it with all the civility we can muster, no matter what our opponents do or say.
May that be our gift to one another, this year and every year.