When the CEO of Starbucks attempted, perhaps somewhat naively and clumsily, to jump start a conversation on race and racial relations, his efforts were mocked into oblivion by both the media and the public, and no rational conversation was forthcoming. A breakdown of respect for self and others seems to pervade attitudes and behaviors at all levels of society today and kills conversation before it can begin. While TV, various media sources, and social media have done much good and exposed many hidden evils, they may also be responsible for escalating partisanship, and for encouraging uncivil, disrespectful, intolerant, irresponsible, irrational, and knee-jerk behaviors and reactions. How can we hope to have a meaningful conversation on racism in our time, on religious tolerance, on politics or any other aspect of our personal, public, or intellectual lives, if civility, respect, and a willingness to listen to other points of view are dying values and skills?
Questions to consider might include: How do you feel about the breakdown of respect, decorum, and civility in society? What do you believe has led to this breakdown? What role has media played in our society’s lack of civil behavior and discourse? How does lack of respect and consideration affect our daily life and behaviors? How does it affect our treatment of those most vulnerable in our society and in need of assistance? Can respect, civility, and tolerance be taught?
The Civility Project.
Pitts, Leonard, “Conversation on Race’ Needs Education on Race“, Southern Illinoisan (April 1, 2015)
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