Civility: A Path Towards Peace


Looking for some quick motivation? Peruse a collection of articles both written by and about me to take some motivation with you into your own life!


by Michèle Wahlder

Civility is defined as: courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, graciousness, consideration, respect.

Civility is a path towards peace. In the past year, I have felt more anxious and apprehensive in sharing my true perspective on various subjects, even with close friends. I fear that our difference of opinion could cause a split in our friendship, the potential loss of a friend. I don’t remember feeling like this before? I wonder if others feel this way? It seems that we have become intolerant of differing outlooks on life, issues and events? I’m not sure how or when this shift happened and it makes me sad. I love a civil conversation based in a foundation of respect, curiosity and tolerance. Giving each other the space for differing viewpoints while maintaining the integrity of the relationship would make a huge difference in our lives. 

This would mean each of us would need to refrain from personal attacks that would inhibit our feeling of safety and our ability to share authentically. We can all open up more easily in a space of safety. This type of human exchange requires a receptive, curious, beginner's mind and attitude. And, yes, suspending any self-righteousness, while granting the other person a sacred, safe space in which to share. This would require holding off on our rebuttal, refraining from having a ready comeback in order to focus on the belief system, feelings and perspective of another. It's not easy, and there will be personal discomfort - but it is a worthy, noble and respectful way to be in order to honor our diversity.

Differing on an opinion, the actual subject matter being discussed, is different than personal attacks and derogatory, mean-spirited and/or sarcastic comments about each other’s personhood. What if we were all to practice more tolerance for each other’s perspective? Curiosity about how that person, friend or family member came to feel the way they do? Our belief systems are usually deeply affected by our personal, societal, ancestral and family history and experiences. The beliefs are usually so deeply entrenched that we have lost our ability to empathize with seemingly opposing opinions and feelings. 

I don’t do it perfectly, I am only human and some issues that are real triggers for me. However, I am willing to strive for more civil conversation because this leads to unity and strength among people, in relationships and in the country that I value so. I am feeling weary and overwhelmed by the divisive rhetoric in-person, on television and on social media. The blaming and finger pointing in the news, between political parties, religions, families and friends is intolerable. It is not ok with me. It is not how I want to be in this world. I know I will stumble but I am willing to risk this because of what is at stake - our common humanity and our sense of well-being, individually and as a society. 

Hardened, dogmatic stances can cause divides that might never be mended. Fear and attack-based rhetoric is difficult to get away from unless we bury our heads in the sand and who wants to live like this? This is not how we became the great nation we are! Bridging the gap starts in our own households, with our neighbors and friends. 

This week, what if we were to courageously, kindly and respectfully ask someone who has a different opinion to tell us more about how they came to feel this way about a certain issue? Then, sit back and really listen without rebuttal. No one can argue with feelings, we argue about rigid, inflexible thinking and intolerant, firmly entrenched stances. My hope is that I will learn more about my friends; that our relationships will grow stronger, more heart-felt and kind. Let it begin with me! Civility is a path I want to walk down. Would love to hear how it goes, I promise not to criticize, only to offer support! 

Affirmation: Today, I will strive to have compassion in my heart as I listen to others’ viewpoints. 
I will give others my generosity of spirit and leeway to have an opinion different than my own. 

Join me in finding our way back to respectful, honoring and civil conversations! 
I am grateful for civility!

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