In a recent column, I defined civility as acting appropriately to our fellow citizens. The dictionary describes civil behavior as being polite, not rude. Could we add additional meanings to being civil? Perhaps, to be kind. Some think of kindness as showing a soft side when actually it takes more strength to be kind and to show restraint.
Perhaps we have begun to equate being civil with being safe. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about charter schools in North Carolina, startling numbers were revealed about statewide school enrollment. Less than 80 percent of K-12 students are enrolled in public schools while 110,000 are in charter schools, 100,000 in private schools and — here’s the shocking number — 140,000 are home-schooled. Do parents now feel that they must find a safe school environment away from the general public?
Where should we look for solutions to the “wild west, shoot-em up” mentality being exhibited again and again in our society? Is it the role of churches, schools and other institutions to do the taming? Is it the role of government to clamp down?
On a happier subject, we have observed the increased focus on service to others beginning with schools from elementary age through college. Churches have increased their community service programs, providing food, school supplies and medical services. But there’s more to the problem that we seem to be missing.
I think that basic values, taught in the home, are the start of change. How will this happen? I don’t know, but I think it’s time to start the conversations about the missing link in our society. If this is something that interests you, take the idea to your pastor or church leaders and ask for their support.
If we really care about civility, we need to show it to everyone around us.