There is a ‘shadow side’ to civility that has led to the following story and resources. There is also an emotional and experiential part of civility that can suppress honesty necessary to growth or serve as tool to oppress. As a religious community we hope to expand understandings around the different perspectives Friends have and so provide this follow up on the civility topic.
A report titled “Civility in America 2018 (.pdf),” found that 93% of Americans identified “a civility problem in society.”
For those concerned with civility, or the lack of civility in today’s world, you are not alone.
In fact, calls for civility among Quakers date back to at least 1934. In a Friends Journal article titled “Civility Can Be Dangerous,” Quaker Lucy Duncan reckoned with the legacy of Henry Cadbury, one of the founders of AFSC, who called for civility in response to rising fascism. Duncan wrote “civility is no substitute for morality. Belief in peace doesn’t mean naively expecting everyone to get along.”
When calling for civility, it’s important to be specific about what is meant and to know what it stands for. For some, calls to restore civility can be heard as calls to uphold and reinforce the status quo.
Last week, PYM published an interview with Karen Tibbals, author of Preaching to the Choir: Restoring Civility Across the Political Divide. This week we share resources and questions to help frame and navigate this important conversation across a range of perspectives.
Resources on Civility
Having a common vocabulary can help build a more cohesive PYM community with room for multiple perspectives.
- Introduction: Whose Civility?– Anthropological insights on debates about civility as a “worldly concept” by Sharika Thiranagama, Tobias Kelly, & Carlos Forment
- Civility Can Be Dangerous – Friends Journal article by Lucy Duncan
- “When Civility Is Used as A Cudgel Against People Of Color” – 6 minute podcast episode and write up from Code Switch
- Trevor Noah Eviscerates the Civility Argument – Comedian Trevor Noah on the topic
- Recovering the (Lost) Art of Civility – “What will it take to regain civil discourse that serves common interests?”
- White America’s Age-Old, Misguided Obsession with Civility — A historian’s take on civility for the NY Times
- What are these civility arguments really about? – A dialogue with writers from FiveThirtyEight
- The Price of Incivility – Understanding the impact of incivility in the workplace
Photograph above: Freshly printed stack of papers by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash