Our world is apt to canonize Push. It will sing the praises of the one who excels at Shove, will call him ‘successful’ as he elbows his way to the top of the heap. As he treads upon others and pushes them aside, he will graciously nod in response to the loud ‘huzzahs’ and toasts to his health.
But Civility has a different notion. The word civility comes from the Latin word civitas, which means city – individuals, living, working, and moving in proximity. Civility is all about Community. Civility knows it is not the only one, that others are also important. It takes them into account and gives them value. Push is self-seeking and exclusive. Civility is inclusive and neighborly. (In fact, neighborly is a fine synonym.)
Jim, my husband of 42 years, will NEVER sit in any waiting situation if others are present – in a bus, or waiting to be seated at a restaurant, he will stand, no matter how long. He would never, never sit if others are present and might need a seat. He just stands, making the seat available, or offers it to another. He would never consider it his seat, but theirs. He is a true gentleman.
The community-minded person is neighborly – seeking the welfare of the civitas he finds himself in. His focus is outward; it is not pushy, but gentle, encouraging his neighbors, and glad to lead them to the choice places. Civility, or neighborliness, is gentle – and ‘gentlemen’ and ‘gentlewomen‘ are its inhabitants.
There is much talk of ‘Community’ today, but little understanding of its meaning. If you are like me, you have many examples of Incivility at the tip of your tongue; we see it at every turn. We are surrounded and inundated by the Push & Shove, the Grabby-Snatchy, Me-First way of doing and being in this, our time. We do not need to elevate and stare at these, moaning and groaning at the dearth of care and concern, or lack of courtesy and neighborliness in our community. What we need are EXAMPLES – living pictures of another way of behaving when we are together. We need more Jims, who will gladly stand and offer their seat, who value others and show it, who have a heart of compassion… which IS Civility. We need to be examples. Offer a better way – not force it, just show it, and thus offer a new, fresh, contrasting option for living in civitas.
Yours for a return to Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence in our community,