it’s time to be civil (7)


“Does civility impose restrictions on our everyday behavior? Of course it does. Does this mean that when we are civil we necessarily give up self-expression? No, it does not. Is civility a hindrance to our quest for a good life? It doesn’t have to be, when it’s practiced in a healthy way. In fact, the opposite is true. Civility is crucial to the achievement of a well-balanced and happy life. …

“As a society we have done a good job of encouraging self-esteem, but not as good a job of teaching self-control. We all need self-esteem. Self-esteem is good, it keeps us sane, it is an immune system for our souls. However, when we are too focused on raising self-esteem, we swell the ranks of the self-absorbed. Many youngsters who have been fed supersized portions of self-esteem have trouble transcending their own immediate concerns, needs, and desires. Therefore they are not attentive, considerate, courteous, and kind. They are trapped in a narcissistic cage we have built for them. Whenever this happens, hurt is bound to ensue.”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 21,24

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