Civility, or sometimes the lack of, is what clearly defines a society or a community. How do we treat other people, particularly when there is disagreement or tension? Do we remember the basic humanity of the other person in our actions and in our public discourse, or do we dehumanize and demonize?
Civility is central to Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, our mission and work. We know it is imperative that civilty remain squarely in the forefront of every project, every action, and every statement we make. We don’t always get it right, but work hard to get better each day.
There are many different versions of civility pledges available from various organizations and efforts. They may have different words but all have similar themes. We offer one version here for your consideration. If you prefer a variation on the pledge, by all means adjust and modify to fit you. The point is that each person pledge to be more civil and work to maintain that pledge each day. And, if you make a mistake, just start again, recommitting yourself to the pledge and to be civil in your next encounter.
We believe if every person makes an effort to be more civil each day, the collective effort can only prove to make our society and our communities better for all of us.
Every day I pledge to do my best to:
1. Appreciate each person’s humanity.
2. Respect every person’s right to their own opinion.
3. Look for things in common, including common language.
4. Build trust in every relationship.
5. Value dialogue. Honor the results.
Civility is a polite act or expression. This applies to our daily lives as we try to extend courtesies, even when we find out someone may not agree with our view of the world. As we’ve found, the more we associate with people who think and act like we do, the less civil we are to others.
This Conversation on Civility program uses portions of three different speakers to spur discussion between J. Barry Griswell, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines; Scott Raecker, executive director of Character Counts in Iowa; Connie Ryan, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa; and Kathy Obradovich, political columnist, Des Moines Register. (Click on the title above to view the discussion.)