Civility, Or….was that a think it or a speak it?

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“People who cannot restrain their own baser instincts, who cannot treat one another with civility, are not capable of self-government… without virtue, a society can be ruled only by fear, a truth that tyrants understand all too well”
― Charles Colson, How Now Shall We Live?

“Was that a think it or a speak it?” That’s the question we ask our kids when they are fighting with each other, and they say something that was hurtful. “Was that a think it or a speak it?” It’s a question we need to be asking ourselves as adults too. Sometimes I get tired, overly annoyed, or just fed up and speak before I think. I always regret it. I always wish those words hasn’t come out of my mouth. When that happens I feel like I turn a different color. Like my soul turns the color of vomit. It’s not attractive.

When I think before I speak and I choose how I respond in a more conscientious way, I find that my soul and my sense of self is more translucent, free and content.

Here’s the thing, we have a lot of comments out there on the web, in emails and on Facebook, where people have chosen to vomit on each other. They have not thought before they wrote or thought about the energy, feelings or impacts the comments will have on other people or society as a whole.

What kind of people do we want to be?

I don’t have an answer for this. I’m a big advocate for Freedom of Speech. I understand how easy it is to write a snarky comment without worrying about accountability.

But here’s the thing, at the end of the day there is always accountability. We are always accountable to our souls, our inner self, and ultimately each other, and when we express hurtful things, we are really ultimately hurting ourselves, and all of society whether we know it or not.

I think our society needs to call people accountable to rude, hurtful behavior. I think we need to be assertive when we see comments that are pukey. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be critical, angry or assertive. I’m saying that we can be all of those things without being a jerk.

We need to teach society to stop and think, “was that a think it or a speak it?” We need leaders to model civility.

“Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail ­ as you surely will ­ adjust your lives, not the standards.”
― Ted Koppel

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