The Basis of a Tolerant Society

In the face of what I sometimes see as an ever-increasing level of anger, dismissiveness, and vitriol in what passes for public discourse, I have often hoped for and indeed sort a higher level of civility to be part of public conversation and disagreement. Alas, those hopes are not always realised, but I keep hoping for such a thing to occur.

The article below, however, which appears on the ABC Religion & Ethics website, gives me pause for thought. It makes me wonder just what I meant when I was calling for a more civil public discourse.

So what does mere civility demand of us? That we remain committed to talking and disagreeing — and not to pull our punches, although we may not land them all at once. This also suggests that if you’re talking about civility as a way to avoid having a difficult disagreement, you’re doing it wrong.

Teresa M. Bejan

I think I might have to rethink the meaning of the words ‘civil’ and ‘civility’ before entering into the fray once again and calling for a different form or style of public discourse.