Today we reach the eighth and final rule of the Civility Counts pledge. This one has a special significance for me, because I see it as my calling in life to promote civility as much as I can. It’s not enough for me to act civil; I want to encourage others to follow suit. Over time, society will become much more pleasant and free of strife.
Naturally, not everyone is going to quit their job and become a full-time civility coach. That’s my job. Still, it is important to not only encourage civility by setting a good example, but by encouraging your peers to make good choices. Sometimes we get a kick out of seeing others indulge in bad behavior that we ourselves would not engage in. Maybe we secretly gawk when a fight breaks out, or we get a sense of pleasure when our best friend tells us how she got even with an evil boss or ex-boyfriend. Maybe we like seeing other people live out the devil-on-our-shoulder fantasies. But, is it really right?
A friend of mine recently had an issue with her mother-in-law. My friend joked that she wanted to respond to the woman’s pushy behavior by ignoring her demands entirely. I could understand the temptation, but I urged her to be the bigger person. Why create more drama and ruffle feathers? If it’s a serious issue, have a serious conversation about it, but pushing buttons and engaging in a passive-aggressive back-and-forth is far from civil. My friend finally agreed to take the high road.
You can spread civility simply by encouraging your friends to make good life choices. Daring each other to cause trouble is for kids; it’s time to step it up and bring out the best in others.