School days are here again. When school teachers ask for help today, many are really wanting to know how mentally and emotionally to survive the day. In some cases, knowing the subject matter is secondary to managing crowd control. A friend of ours works across the street from a “last stop” high school for kids who have been booted out of their original school. It is not uncommon, she says, to see police cars pull up en masse and escort students outside and into their patrol cars. Area residents are so accustomed to the wailing sirens, they hardly pay any attention. It is still jarring, however, to those people who work in the inner city and then go home to a more serene environment.
This particular school leans toward the extreme but many schools and teachers deal with kids who are out of control. We’re not sure that any school in the nation will ever require students to take a course in civility. Not civics. Civility. But we think it would be a good idea. We are not a civil society these days. We have replaced conversation with confrontation. In many cases, violence is the first resort. And it’s not a question of teaching morals. It goes more deeply than that. It’s a matter of values.
Our values define us
A value is an intangible ideal that we personify by the way we live and conduct ourselves in society. If we hold sacred the value that every human being deserves respect, then we wouldn’t think of hurting another person by our words or actions. Respect for all of human life is a value, one that serves as a cornerstone for morality. We respect others’ property as if it were our own. We realize how much money and/or effort it took for us to acquire those things that we hold dear; therefore, we would not steal from someone else. Respecting what others have invested in their own lives—tangible and intangible—is a value.
Civility ought to be part of the curriculum in public, private and home schools. (How about a section in Driver’s Ed?) So much of what we see and hear in the news and through entertainment venues reflects very little regard for human life and dignity. A popular bumper sticker reads: “You keep honking … I’ll keep reloading.” These days the way to solve disputes or even minor disagreements is to use abusive language, throw a punch, or all too often, pull a trigger.
Kindness—what a concept!
Dad, teach your son that there is nothing manly about being a brute. Being loud and pushy and aggressive doesn’t show strength. It shows insecurity and weakness. Dad, teach your daughter that the qualities that exemplify a lady are those that will last a lifetime and carry over to others. Tell your kids to look for role models who receive humanitarian awards, study abroad, read books to children and the elderly—who treat other people with respect and kindness.
We need an app for civility.