A call for civility

American politics has become increasingly virulent in recent years. As we’ve grown used to talking about Red and Blue States, it seems the language of politics, the give and take debate on issues, has become more and more aggressive, angry and divisive.

Opponents hurl insults at each other and sometimes speak as if the opposition has no right to be heard. The land of “E Pluribus Unum” seems increasingly fractured by differences over issues, and genuine disdain for those who hold opposing opinions.

Pastor Mark Daniels, who blogs at Better Living, has written an excellent piece on the importance of civility in politics.

…a personal memory of [Chris] Matthews from [the Reagan] days. Reagan entered the anteroom of the Speaker’s office, a place occupied by Matthews himself, just before the President was to deliver a State of the Union message. “Mr. President,” Matthews said, “this is the room where we plot against you.” “Oh, no,” Reagan replied impishly, “the Speaker says that we’re friends after 6:00.”…

How, in short, do the ideologues of the Left and of the Right react to civility, even friendliness, among rival politicians?

When I read the blogs or listen to the comments of today’s fierce ideologues, I think that they look askance at any camaraderie or compromise in politics. They’d rather win an argument, at least in their own eyes, than advance the interests of the country at large. (Or even their own causes, if incrementally and incompletely.) And they have no patience for the simple practical fact that politics, like much of life, is about people working together with people, sometimes people who have deep disagreements.

I’m convinced that the survival of the American experiment depends on our re-learning how to practice civility (what Christ would call love) in the midst of heated disagreement. Go read Mark’s entire piece at Better Living.

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