Perhaps I am simply paying closer attention than others, but it feels like 80% of what is being talked about everywhere I go is politics right now. Not legislating mind you…. But politics; who said what about whom or which
statements are true or false, or all about the latest gaffe a candidate has made. It is enough to drive me off TV and away from Starbucks until after the election.
In a recent phone conversation with my sister in Virginia she said it has become so bad where she lives that people answer their phones, “what do you want…” when they don’t recognize the number. Ouch.
Now more than ever we as a country should pay attention to language… as I tell my daughter all the time, words matter. And civil words matter more than most. This word civil dates back to the late 14c, originating from the Latin, civilis…
…"relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen," hence "popular, affable, courteous;" alternative adjectival derivation of civis "townsman".
The sense of "polite" was in the Latin, from the courteous manners of citizens, as opposed to those of soldiers. But English did not pick up this nuance of the word until late 16c. " (Online Etymology Dictionary Link)
It is ironic that during this time England was anything but a civil place to live. A brief overview of the 16c shows that England was at war with just about everyone… including themselves. Unable to decide if they were Catholic or Protestant, each sovereign brought in a different set of rules and beliefs and persecuted those who did not go along with it.
So, here is my question… are we in another age where the idea of civility is paramount simply for its disappearance? Fundamentalist Christians fight against radical Islamists; and those who are civil, the non-soldiers, get pulled in either direction… as if this is our only choice.
Can we make our civil voice heard? We are: a civilization, a civilized people, civilians who believe in civil rights as part of our founding principles. Perhaps right now we should worry less about the political process and more about the process of civility.