Civility by Stephen L. Carter

YOU MAY WONDER, as I did, Would the uncivil read a book on civility? When it comes to civility, though, it's OK to be in the choir and fervently preached at. While civil behavior begins with childhood instruction and continues with self-discipline, there are pop quizzes every day for life. And we won't instantly become a more civil society by osmosis. As Garrison Keillor has said of religion: You can become a Christian by going to church just about as easily as you can become an automobile by sleeping in a garage.

As marginalized as the need for civility may become in troubled times, it's fundamental to solving human relationship problems and to peace-making. Absent the qualities of heart and mind that are summed in civility, a discussion becomes a heated debate, a gathering becomes a mob, a territorial dispute leads to war.

In her true light...
April 22, 2002

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