Keeping Civil In Civilization.
Merriam Webster defines civil as” polite but not friendly: only as polite as a person needs to be in order to not be rude.” And according to the etymology dictionary the word civil originated from the Latin word civilis, "relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen…courteous.” 1
It was not until the late 16 century that the word civil was used in the English language and though the word has been around now for almost a half or century, it may take even longer for it to have a full effect on mankind.
Civility does not mean that we all have to agree with one another’s philosophy, plotics or religion. It does however, require courtesy. A quality that seems to have all but disappeared from society.
I looked up synonyms of courtesy and chose some of the ones that spoke to me. Civility was the very first word that appeared followed by; deference, kindness, generosity, chivalry, favor, respect, politeness, tact and gentleness.
The antonyms I chose from the list were; disdain, disregard, meanness, disrespect, aloofness, coldness, fear, discourtesy and neglect.
The latter qualities seem to be more prominent in human behavior. But I cannot imagine or accept that these qualities are the true make up of man.
In Genesis 1:26. “26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness.” (ICB) So if in fact we accept this as the identity of generic man, then it would stand to reason that our traits would resemble that of the divine nature of God but it seems that the behavioral traits mostly demonstrated are not in alignment with divinity.
After the 2016 presidential election here in the America, there were many examples of people acting in contrary to civility based upon the extreme differences between parties. It was reported in some political advertisements that it was like there were two different Americas being represented.
This was stirring-up fear in people’s minds, provoking animosity and fueling the fire of prejudice and hate.
Some individuals chose not to get involved at all including withholding a vote, while others chose to handle the antagonism of erratum with more error.
As I watched the drama escalate, turning people against one another, I could not help but pray even more fervently that eyes of our nation would be opened to the truth that like it or not in these United States the majority rules.
I feared that either way the election turned out, there would be a lot of American citizens who would not be happy. So it is fair to say that even though the majority does rule, to many, it does not meant the majority is right.
In Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” he said, ““But government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.” In other words, he is intimating that because whoever would get elected still others would feel unrepresented.
So how can all of the people be pleased with the results of a majority rule government?
Thoreau offers a solution explaining that people should be able to govern themselves, reflecting self-control, fairness and the ability to discern between right and wrong.
To govern one’s own mind rather than being entrapped by the majority rule is freedom. To not allow one’s self to be ensnared by the threats of the majority is peace. And though it may be too late to have your choice of candidate elected, it is never too late to practice this kind of mental freedom and self-government. It is not too late to act courteously, kind to others and respectful even in differences of opinions.
The opposite behaviors of civility could never possibly fill the gulf that seems to have been set between friends, family and neighbors. After all, how can disdain, coldness, disrespect and fear heal anything? They cannot!
Samuel Johnson said of civility, “"When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency."
For some people the battle continues in hopes of being heard, counted equally with fellow Americans and will continue the fight until they see their beliefs manifested. For others, they acquiesced while their hopes will have to wait until they fight another day, and for others, they have formed organizations such as the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council to combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to ensure that justice and fairness abound for Muslim and Jews.
Though this is not the first election that stirred-up fear and isms. In 1860, the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln ran against John Bell, the Constitutional Union candidate, a Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge and the Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas. After he defeated them it was said that the election results had “torn the nation apart.” As that election and the profound Lincoln made it to our American history books so shall the presidential election of 2016 but unfortunately, it will be for many different reasons.
Regardless of who sits in the oval office as president, there is still a higher approach that one may take to rise above the fear and panic that seems to have been hovering over our United States since the beginning of the presidential race, and it can be found in the new testament readings in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. It is written,
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (ESV)
I realize that this idea may seem absurd and impractical for some, and that a more relative, radical approach needs to be taken. But I trust that a real need for calmness and harmony to replace the mistiness of uncertainty, that there is nothing more important than for our society to act dignified and civilly one to another.
The world has been watching this great country set pathways for others to follow so are we suggesting that they now follow an uncivilized society? Are we to stand by with muted minds while the clock of human progress rewinds back to an archaic time of uncivility, carnal mentality and a society unruly and uncultured? I certainly pray not!
Standing up for what you believe in is integrity but not if you do it with a cynical heart and an angry mind. Not if your motives are to control another person, erase progress and set your own personal unprejudiced agenda into motion.
There have been great advances made in the history of this world without the implementation of violence such as; Jesus the Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King and Betty Williams.
I believe that if each one of us takes the positon of being civil, like those mentioned above, even if we are fearful, even if we are adamantly opposed to the outcome of this election or to anything else for that matter, and hold to deference instead of disdain, kindness instead of hatred, peaceful demonstrations rather than violently expressing our viewpoint, and do our part in putting civil back in the American civilization, then the gulf that seems to be widening within this country, will close and sealed with peace.
ESV-English Standard Version
Adam or Adamant?
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy explains Adam as follows: “The word Adam is from the Hebrew adamah, signifying the red color of the ground, dust, nothingness. Divide the name Adam into two syllables, and it reads, a dam, or obstruction….Here a dam is not a mere play upon words; it stands for obstruction…” (338:12 XXIX-338:21)
Miriam Webster defines “adamant” as “a stone (as a diamond) formerly believed to be of impenetrable hardness; an unbreakable or extremely hard substance; not willing to change an opinion or decision;... unyielding.” The suffix “ant” signifies “a person or thing that does a specified thing” In this case I’m referring to someone who isn’t willing to change their opinion about something or who is “unyielding.” www.miriamwebster.com
In Genesis II, Adam found himself and his wife in trouble by being adamant when he failed to refuse the forbidden fruit. The very thing he needed to be unyielding about he gave in to. That one decision led him and his family to much grief and hardship and left its impression on mankind!
To know about much is wonderful, but none of us know everything; yet that doesn’t stop some from acting as a know-it-all.
Ornery and rigid thinking have prolonged and fertilized racism, sexism, economic discrimination, class discrimination, dysfunctional families and other forms of egotistical biases. They keep us in finite realms of thought, setting at variance families, communities and countries.
Opening up thought to newer and higher ways will bind-up the wounds that have lingered for generations and bring all of us to brand new experiences filled with harmony and love.
If we find ourselves stubborn, inflexible or hard to move because we believe so much that we are justified in our sanctimonious beliefs, then maybe we need to work on being more pliant and try bending a bit, rather than acting like braggarts.
It was, after all, an Adam-ant and inflexible attitude that broke down the family tree of Adam and Eve, which was left for us to heal.
May I? Can I? Might I?
Boy to his mom: “Can I please have some vanilla ice cream?”
Mom: “Sure you can, but you may not!”
: “But I thought you said I could?”
: “I did!”
: “I don’t get it!”
: “‘Can”” explains that you are capable of doing something, but ‘may’ answers the question as to whether you are allowed or given permission to do something as well as signifying that it is possible that it will happen.”
: “So you are saying that I might be able to have some vanilla ice cream?”
: “You might, one day or someday when you eat all your vegetables.”
: “Something that ‘might’ happen, such as you eating all of your vegetables and then getting your vanilla ice cream, is less likely to happen, and ‘may’ suggests it is still possible and more likely, but maybe not in this case, although it just might.”
: “Ok, so I can eat my vegetables and finish them, then I may have the vanilla ice cream, but I might be too full because you gave me so many vegetables!”
: “Now you’ve got it!”
What we say harms or helps.
“…[I]n the Christian Recorder, March 1862, in a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, an ‘old adage’ was presented in this form:
Sticks and stones will break my bones, But words will never harm me.”1
I would like very much to agree with that adage, but words seem to hurt much more often than sticks and stones.
Many physiological and psychological explanations exist as to why negative words affect our disposition, our health, and our overall well-being. While these explanations are very useful and necessary in order for us to reach a higher understanding that will enrich the quality of our lives along with the length of our lives, in this particular article the focus is on what we trust is equally important, if not more. We need a deeper and more spiritual explanation as to why the words we choose to utter make all the difference in our lives and the lives of others.
What is a word? According to Dictionary.com, it is “a unit of language… .”
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary explains the definition of word as “something that is said.”
It should also be said that our English word word is from the Greek word, “logos: a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech…divine utterance, analogy.”3
In the Gospel of John 1:1-3, it is written “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Taking into consideration that John clearly informs us that the “word” matters because it cannot be separated from God, then it stands to reason that what we say ABSOLUTELY matters!
Oftentimes, and I trust that many of us have experienced this, when we hear a negative word, are spoken to harshly or even reprimanded, a change in our feelings results.
In an article by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Waldman, entitled,”The Most Dangerous Word in the World.”
They have discovered that when someone who was put in an FMRI machine (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) that takes pictures of brain activity and saw the word no for under one second, they had an adverse reaction. The brain released chemicals or stress-producing hormones as well as neurotransmitters that disrupted the normal functions of the brain.
Further testing proved that when someone who is already struggling with depression, when shown a list of negative words for just seconds, caused him or her to become more depressed.
So what’s the fuss over?l Why does it matter how we say something or what we say?
B. Cobbey Crisler says in his lecture- Simon the disciple- that “God’s Word As Communication it is never unrelated to action”
Spreading gossip to falsely accusing someone to bullying all contribute to the destruction of one’s joy and the overall breakdown of society.
This excerpt from www.girlshealth.com states facts about how bullying hurts:
When someone is bullied, their chances of committing suicide increase.
Let’s do an equation: negative words x gossip + bullying = harm, misery, and death.
Now reverse it: positive words x encouragement = joy, self-acceptance and love
Since “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), and Love did not create anything unlike itself, we arrive at a very fundamental and simple answer to the question as to why adverse language hurts, because God does not speak that way; if, however, we still need more evidence to support this, the book of James has much written about the danger of a nugatory tongue.
“2 We all stumble along the way. If a person never speaks hurtful words or shouts in anger or profanity, then he has achieved perfection. The one who can control his tongue can also control the rest of his body. 3 It’s like when we place a metal bit into a horse’s mouth to ride it; we can control its entire body with the slightest movement of our hands. 4 Have you ever seen a massive ship sailing effortlessly across the water? Despite its immense size and the fact that it is propelled by mighty winds, a small rudder directs the ship in any direction the pilot chooses. 5 It’s just the same with our tongues! It’s a small muscle, capable of marvelous undertakings. And do you know how many forest fires begin with a single ember from a small campfire? 6 The tongue is a blazing fire seeking to ignite an entire world of vices. The tongue is unique among all parts of the body because it is capable of corrupting the whole body. If that were not enough, it ignites and consumes the course of creation with a fuel that originates in hell itself. 7 Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. 8 But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. 9 Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image. 10 One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be.”6
Matthew Henry’s Commentary of Proverbs 18:9 reads as follows, “Many a one has caused his own death, or the death of others, by a false or injurious tongue.” http://biblehub.com/proverbs/18-9.htm
No matter what religion we may or may not practice, and no matter what age, race, or gender, I believe that many of us have felt the keen and sharp thrust of a negative remark, a derogatory statement, or harsh criticism that pierced the very center of our being and found their way to our hearts.
Opprobrious words are just as lethal if not more than carnal weapons, and some may need a lifetime to heal from its injection, but just as we need a permit to carry a gun, maybe we should have permit to carry such a lethal weapon as the tongue!
“If you truly loved yourself you could never hurt another.” Buddha
Biblical citations that support this claim that pernicious words produce harmful results: John 14:23-24 (KJV) “23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words.”
KJV-King James Version
(Ps. 19:14, Ps. 141:3, Prov. 15:1, Prov. 15:4, Prov. 18:20-21, Prov. 17:27, Mt. 4:4, Mt. 7:24, Mt. 8:8, Mt. 8:16, Mt. 10:14, Mt. 12:36-37, Mt. 13:19, Mt. 24:35, Mt. 26:44, Acts 6:13, Acts 2:14, Acts 26:25, Ro. 10: 8, Ro. 10:18, Heb. 1:3, Heb. 11:3, Heb. 12:19, Heb. 6:5, Eph. 4:29, Eph. 5:26, Eph. 6:17, 1 Peter 1:25, 2 Peter 3:5, Col. 3:8)
1 “Sticks and Stones (nursery Rhyme).” World Public Library. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://www.worldlibrary.org/article/whebn0012804887/sticks and stones (nursery rhyme).
2 “The Most Dangerous Word in the World.” Psychology Today. Accessed August 11, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/the-most-dangerous-word-in-the-world.
3 “Strong’s Greek: 3056. λόγος (logos) -- a Word (as Embodying an Idea), a Statement, a Speech.” Strong’s Greek: 3056. λόγος (logos) -- a Word (as Embodying an Idea), a Statement, a Speech. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://biblehub.com/greek/3056.htm.
4 “How Does Bullying Others Hurt You?” Home. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://www.girlshealth.gov/bullying/beingthebully/bullyhurt.html.
5 “Bullying Suicide Statistics.” NoBullying Bullying CyberBullying Resources. Accessed August 11, 2016. https://nobullying.com/bullying-suicide-statistics/.