This I Believe

John (Jack) - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on February 15, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in civility, not just the perfunctory “thank you” or “yes sir” but fundamental respect for the persons that are here with us in the “here and now.” You may not like that person’s race, dress, appearance, or even his or her ideas if you converse. That person is a conglomeration of “nature, ” “nurture,” and “choice.” All of these components need to be respected in order for us to find common ground and work together to solve the problems that face us. Problem solving is difficult if we are encumbered by hate and prejudice. Those of us in our society who want to turn back the clock on civility: back to a time and mental construct of elitism and division, those people need to be identified for what they are. Their ideas cannot stand the light of day that true civility provides.

Some disorders of civility are medical problems. For instance there is no need for testiness or irritability. Medical science is showing us that this may represent a medical problem or imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Prozac and the like are miracle drugs in extinguishing irritability and reactive behavior. On the other hand overwhelming aggressiveness which may partially be the result of raging androgenic hormones needs to be played down or redirected in a constructive way, as uncontained aggressiveness is ultimately a path to prison, financial ruin, homelessness, or commitment to a mental hospital, although there seems to be less and less public money for this purpose with preference for prisons. Mental disorganization either from insanity or organic brain disorders foul up human interaction causing people to drift down and out of society.

Civility includes tolerance for others’ taste and opinion, but this does not include tolerance for views that would disrespect or discriminate against others or ask for their extermination without due cause. Some people call this “political correctness” which would suggest that if you play by all the conversational rules and still hold your private hate and prejudice, you might be elected to some office? Being truly “civil” does not require you to be political or even correct.

The history of our cultures is a progressive march toward fairer and more comprehensive civility. Modern tolerant and “civil” society has evolved from the time of the enlightenment to allow people of disperate stripes to work as a cohesive unit. Such a society as ours is in the crosshairs of radical Islam for instance, but also under attack by people in our own society who ironically would use fear of “terror” or Islam or some other thing to exterminate civility itself.

I am trying to act as an example of civility. I vociferously but civilly rebut those who would want to turn their backs on, or turn back the clock on civility.