Have we moved past the possibility of civility?

In the immediately preceding post, I comment on the vast chasm in American politics.  It is, perhaps, every bit as unbridgeable as the one that America saw before the Civil War.  People don’t just have differences of opinion, they have profoundly different moral compasses.

It is in that context that you should read the Anchoress’ post asking if America has gone beyond the possibility of civility in public discourse.  She writes from a religious viewpoint, one that contemplates a spiritual serenity that I admire.  Whether that serenity can ever beat back the toxic clash of ideologies we now see remains open to question.

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  • jj

    No, it can’t.  It never has: thus martyrs.
    Difficult to believe there’s anyone in this country who will ever know only one Catholic.  According to the Official Catholic Directory there are 66.3 million Catholics in this country, and 78.2 million who self-identify that way.  I don’t know where her set of non-Catholic friends hangs out, but if she’s the only Catholic they’ll ever know, it’s not here in America.  Here in America every fourth person you meet is one, so we’re a lot tougher to avoid than we are to find.
    I also don’t find that engaging involves a delicate balancing act.  Possibly I engage differently, but I react to what I meet.  Friendly up to a point.  When I’m engaging it’s pretty much for the same purpose anyone engages: to express, advocate for, or promote something.  (An idea, a concept, a value – whatever.)  When doing so, I’m not “balancing,” am I?  Nor am I greatly concerned with that.  I’m actively advocating, no “balance” required.
    And as for the long view, well, my time is certainly the most important time in the history of the world – to me.  It’s all the time I’ll ever have here, and I’d rather not see it burn down around me if there’s anything I can do to prevent that.  I’m not readily accepting of that, nor should I be.  While it’s quite true no one ever believes disaster should happen in their lifetime, the fact that it does anyway doesn’t render it swell, nor does it make it something to be simply accepted, cheerfully or otherwise.  God takes a much longer view, of course.  He can afford to.  I, on the other hand, have no certainty that I’ll ever be back this way again, so right now is all there is here – and it counts.  Even if I’m a good boy and end up in the good place, it won’t be here.  Foggy, salt-air mornings; ham and cheese sandwiches on dark rye; and Ferarri 330 P4s won’t be a feature for me anymore: from all I know of it they won’t be there.  So now counts.
    I regret the loss of civility, but I didn’t start it.  Given the general level of manners, all that happens when you turn the other cheek is that you get smacked twice.  Disinclined to go there.  Regretfully, because the philosophy is lovely, but if, according to their leader, our opponents are going to bring a gun to the knife-fight, them I’m coming with an RPG.  It’s either worth fighting for, or it isn’t.    

  • Danny Lemieux

    JJ, “It’s either worth fighting for, or it isn’t.    

    Or, in the immortal words of “JJ”R Tolkien…

    “Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.”

    Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

    When Tolkien wrote this, we had just finished WWII and the Korean War and were descending deep into the Cold War.


  • Texan99

    Not that I personally can claim a very good record in this regard, but I firmly believe it is possible to be civil while vehemently disagreeing and even while shouting loud warnings.  One of the things I work hardest on is avoiding impugning the motives of people who disagree with me.  Of course, every time I relax and let down my guard I find myself doing it again, or lapsing into sarcasm and put-downs.

    I post at Grim’s Hall.  Grim is uniformly and relentlessly polite, which gives me good practice in disagreeing sharply without degenerating into insult.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    It’s not the politics breaking people’s bridges. It’s all the trolls paid for by the evil alliance that is doing so. Their interest is not so much political, as religious.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    You remember the Jim Jones cult that ended up in their achieving Utopia? That was a religious, not so much political, stance they took. An ideal Utopia, land of the saved, and to be part of the saved, you need to kill that guy over there that has an R by his name.

    That’s basically what you are dealing with here. People get misled when they think it’s about politics. It hasn’t been about politics for the last 100 years of the Left’s inception.