Civility and Grace
Rising Above – With Respect and Human Decency
Jay talks about the need for civility and grace at this critical time for our nation.
We have an opportunity now more than ever to rise above the divisiveness that we see in our national discourse – and call upon the virtues of civility and grace. While there may be issues that divide us – we need to remember that we can disagree on issues – without being disagreeable. We need to treat each other with an abundance of human respect and decency - as valued colleagues, neighbors and friends.
Moreover, as Americans let’s focus on the positive – and strengthen our bonds as a people, with a common devotion to individual freedom, equality and justice for all. Throughout our history, it is the civility displayed by millions of Americans in cities and small towns all across our nation that has allowed our country to produce more freedom and more prosperity for more people than any other country in the history of the world.
With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we are reminded of her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Arguably, the most liberal justice on the on Supreme Court, matched with the most conservative – and disagreeing on a myriad of legal and political issues. Nonetheless, displaying the ability to rise above their opposing viewpoints and enjoy a personal warmth. Even attending events together and sharing the holidays with their respective families.
Similarly, President Ronald Reagan famously reaching across the aisle to Speaker Tip O’Neil – finding ways to communicate on a human level, transcend party rivalries and find a common ground – All based on a certain civility and grace.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the concept of American exceptionalism and the experiment that is our nation. Our never-ending pursuit of liberty, equality, and justice for all, consistently challenges us to strive for more each and every day. The foundations of this nation were built on the premise that although we do not all come from the same backgrounds or share the same opinions, we are united, as one people, by a set of shared principles and values which allow us to reach common ground and compromise. By standing united behind these ideals, we demonstrate their power .
Civility in a Small Town
One of the many benefits of living in a small town is that you grow up knowing and appreciating the value of being polite and civil to your neighbors. In small towns you interact with the same people day after day. You see them at the grocery store, in church, or at the high school football game. Because you are part of a close-knit community you learn how to be friendly and civil with one another even when there are areas of disagreement. I believe this is one of the greatest benefits of living in a small town – and stands in stark contrast to the potential anonymity of life in the big city.
In large cities, there is a sense of ‘invisibility’ by virtue of being just another person or another face. You don’t know if you will ever see the people you interact with again and as a result, it’s easy to treat others with a certain disrespect – be cold or even callous. Resulting in a diminished opportunity for bonding and developing common purpose.
Thus, the immense value that small towns contribute to our nation. Small towns foster civility and grace in our social interactions. Its where we treat people with respect and develop a true sense of community. Not surprisingly, it is also in small towns where neighbors and friends celebrate each-others’ success. And, it’s in these same small towns that when disaster or tragedies strike, it’s where neighbors and friends rush in to generously help and provide support.
As we think about the America of the future, let’s cherish the value of small towns. And, let’s do all we can to help them flourish – as the true backbone of our nation, where civility and grace can rule the day!
Our Military Leads the Way
It’s interesting, and perhaps even ironic, that members of our armed forces – whose central mission is to deal with conflict – also display some of the greatest qualities of civility.
Think of how many times our military has stepped in, after conflict, to provide humanitarian aid, supply food and medical supplies, build bridges, get schools up and running, and more.
As recently as last month, 30,000 MREs and 12,000 bottles of water were loaded onto a C-17 transport plane to support those in need after a deadly explosion in Beirut. (Read more about the story here - https://www.army.mil/article/237992/us_delivers_humanitarian_aid_to_beirut)
Moreover, even after our brave men and women come home, they become active volunteers – consistently caring and showing acts of kindness. From helping the homeless to supporting the extremely important Toys for Tots drive, veterans are stepping up, ensuring success, and acting as role models – sharing how we should all treat each other with civility, respect and kindness.
Positive Profile of the Week: Executive Councilor Russell Prescott
Politics can truly use a lot more civility. That’s why I am so very delighted to share this week’s Positive Profile – Councilor Russell Prescott of Kingston. Someone who uses kindness and respect in getting things done for the people of New Hampshire.
I first got to know Russ back in 1998. He was a great supporter of my bid for Governor. An Exeter business owner, he entered into the political arena as a State Senator. In the Senate, Russ brought decorum, intellect and a soft-spoken approach to public office. He accomplished so much for our wonderful state. Streamlining regulation and providing educational opportunities for emerging areas of growth. A fiscal conservative, he cut wasteful spending, and worked hard to strengthen the economy of the Granite State, even helping to lower business taxes.
In 2016, Russell was elected to serve as one of five members of the New Hampshire Executive Council, a very powerful office in our state, where its members serve as a ‘check’ on the powers of the Governor. The Council must vote to approve the filling of all executive appointments as well as all state contracts of $5,000 or more. A perfect position for a business leader who has always kept an eye on the purse.
While on the Council and in the Senate, there have been many long days and heated debates, but Russ has always brought a warm touch to the job. And as he now is about to step back from his role in public service, you can say without a doubt that Russell Prescott will be remembered for his civility towards others, and the respect he has displayed for the people of New Hampshire.
Quotes of the Week: Civility
Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him.
I think it is important that we rebuild an atmosphere of forgiveness and civility in every aspect of our lives.
I didn't knowingly meet a conservative until, to my shame, I was 60 years old and sat down and said, 'Wow, I don't understand what this guy's talking about, but he has a great civility about him. Perhaps I better investigate this thing.'
Years ago on my radio show, I used to say, 'I'm a conservative, but I'm not in a bad mood about it.' I've always believed that civility in heavy doses is essential in self-government.
I will attack ideas very hard. I am not shy about that one bit. So I don't want people to think that because I had a call for civility that that means I shy away from debate and that I'm agreeable. That's not the case. What is the case is that I will not question who you are as a person.