How do you like politics these days? Over the last two years, I’ve been writing the book, Restoring Civility: Lessons from the Master. Guess what I’ve learned? “Civility” means “respect,” which is closely related to the word “polite.” That makes sense, right?
Yeah, but get this: The word “polite” is the root word for “politics” and “politicians.” So how is that working for us? What it means is basic: leaders—all leaders, by definition, are to be (1) respectful, and (2) respected. Are you kidding me?
Look, Restoring Civility is NOT a political book. We have enough of those! This book doesn’t support one party or another, one candidate or someone else. These days, we get enough of that.
The book Restoring Civility is a diagnosis of the issues behind the issues. It’s about the origins, behaviors, positive outcomes of every “civilian”—every citizen, every person. It’s about how to contribute to a positive future: for ourselves, our cities, our nation, our kids, our friends, our work place, our lives. Who wouldn’t gain from that?
Some people are surprised when they read Restoring Civility. For example, let’s not focus on murder—most people get that issue. But what about gossip? What is gossip? By definition, if you have an offensive experience with another person and you tell someone, anyone else, about it, it’s gossip.
My research shows that most people believe it is not gossip if it’s true, factual. Even a lot of “church people” don’t get it right. Look, according to the dictionary, if you tell anyone about your “issues” you have with another person, even if it’s 100% true, it’s gossip. Does that mean you can’t tell your spouse? Your best friend? Your priest? Yeah—you can’t! It’s wrong. It’s a sin. It’s disrespectful. It’s uncivilized.
I know, you are thinking, “this guy is erratic, hyper-religious, legalistic fanatic. Not really! Check the definition yourself. No, I’m not a nut job. I want you to have a more peaceful, civil, civilized life. Less pain, more gain.
So, if Joe has offended you, what do you do? Blabbing it all over to among others is not a civilized approach. Writing Joe off and breaking your relationship is not a respectful approach either. Neither of those approaches is serving your relationship. So, what should a civilized person do? You go to Joe, alone. You haven’t talked about the issue to anyone. You go, face to face, and you hash it out. You go with positive expectations—not with the attitude that you are going to “nail him.” You seek reconciliation, healing, restoration.
“Yeah,” you say, “but I don’t like conflict.” Look, no normal human being likes conflict…except, perhaps, some prosecuting attorney! If you like conflict, you need counselling. Nobody said this was easy. It is just best. It is just right. It is civilized. It is the respectful thing to do.
Can you imagine how many friendships have been shattered, how much pain has been experienced, how many divorces, even wars have occurred, because civility was overlooked, and resulted in a failure to talk it out, one on one?
In the book, Restoring Civility, you’ll learn about what to do if you and Joe don’t reconcile—can’t work it out. Do you know? Actually, the world expert on this issue is Jesus! That means, we should have had this issue nailed twenty centuries ago.
So, if you and Joe can’t bury the hatchet, what does Jesus tell you to do? He says, go back a second time and bring another person with you. What kind of person? A person who isn’t all emotional about the situation, like you and Joe. You want to pick someone who won’t be biased. Your objective is not to be right. Your goal is not to “nail Joe.” It’s to restore your relationship and work out whatever issues caused this mess.
Now you say, “All this is quite obvious. Everyone knows that. It’s just common sense.” Oh yeah? Nine out of ten people don’t know it or don’t do it. This kind of stuff is ripping our society apart.
What do you know about libel? Libel can put you in jail, when it’s at a high level of civil disruption. Most libelous activity happens, however, every day, with millions of people on the internet.
Libel occurs when you 1) don’t go work it out with Joe, and 2) don’t go tell a third party about it, but 3) put it in writing. Yeah, email, Instagram, text, and then you copy it to all of your sympathetic friends. Gossip, put into writing, in any form, is libelous. It is gossip on steroids! How much pain an destruction of relationships occur because of improper use of emails, copied to a bunch of friends?
As I wrote in Restoring Civility, human beings may be smart enough to invent the internet, but not wise enough to use it!
And, if, in your libelous communication, you say anything that diminishes the character or reputation of the person, it is called slander. That includes caricature drawings of prominent leaders on the cover of news magazines. Technically, that type of behavior is against the law!
My point in writing this book? Look how far we have drifted from a civilized place. You know, you can have the greatest economy, the biggest army, the smartest institutions of learning and yet, through civil disobedience, your nation can self-destruct.
Learn more, including seven lessons to improve your personal respect, in Restoring Civility. Join the movement, improve your life, rebuild civilization. Learn and multiply respect.