Civility and Different Methods

4 minute read

atlas

My wife, Amy, and I host a podcast titled The Organized Family. On the podcast we talk about how we organize our family and try and juggle our schedules as well as the schedules of our five children. Recording these podcasts is a great chance for the two of us to talk about family issues, even before we get on the air. Some time ago as I was getting ready for bed, out of the blue, Amy made a comment about how our organization styles are quite different.

Curious, I asked what made her say that. She mentioned that she was working on clearing out her email inbox. When she had started she was had over 600 emails in her inbox. She had managed to whittle it down to 312 and her goal was to get it down to 300 before going to bed. Her observation was that I usually have under 10 emails in my inbox at any one time, while she struggles to keep up on the number she has.

When we then talked about our different spending habits and had another insight: Amy tends to purchase things to improve the house and to invest in experiences like trips and events. I tend to buy books and games, but my goals are the same. I tend to buy books that will improve my knowledge or me as a person. When I purchase things like games, it’s usually because I am anticipating the time I will spend playing the games with friends and family. I don’t usually buy games that I can play alone (unless it’s an RPG: I like stories). Our goals are the same: “Improving” and “Experiences”, but the methods on how we achieve those goals are different. That’s not to say that either of them is wrong, but they fit with our personalities, what we like to do and how we connect with others.

Since that conversation, I’ve tried to see if there are other ways where a persons goals may be the same but the way of executing on them is different.

The first that comes to mind is politics.

I know. Politics can be a touchy subject, especially given the most recent US Presidential election. However, I think we need to take a step back and look at it objectively. No matter your opinion or how you feel the election should have gone, I think most people on either side of the ‘aisle’ in the US would agree with a couple of principles:

  1. We believe in the value of human life. People are important. The difference is in what we do to protect it.
  2. We believe we have an obligation to help our fellow man. We just differ on how to do that.

So, back to our different styles: Amy and I go about trying to find ways to improve ourselves and what is around us. Both of us want to have connection with others. What I find great is that when the two of us come together, I am forced our of my comfort zone and she is forced out of hers. We both have to make some changes and compromises in order to get what we both want. We may play games while on a trip or listen to an audio book while working in the yard. Being open to the ideas and opinions of somebody who has a different method of reaching the same goal makes my life richer and I’m a better person for it.

The challenge then is to look at what is around in life and our society and see what it is that we have in common. What are the underlying reasons and goals behind the actions of somebody else? Before we get angry and start attacking another person we should ask ourselves, “What would make a reasonable, rational person act [or think] this way?” When we look at those around us and are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, then we can better connect with each other and will have less invective and avoid the poisonous rhetoric that seems to be far too pervasive in our society today. Civilization and civility have roots in the same word and if we expect to build up our civilization and make the world a better place, then we should start with ourselves and be more civil.

The talking heads who talk over one another and incite and inflame the listeners and watchers in order to provide political entertainment is not helpful. Nothing is solved and a meaningful dialog is not engaged in. It just adds fuel to the fire and further divides than helps others see another viewpoint. All in the hopes of getting better ratings on TV.

Chances are we all what the same thing: A better world for our children. We just need to recognize where the common ground is and try to build on that.

We can be better than that and we should be.


The image is ‘Atlas’ by Gabriela Fab. You can find it on flickr

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