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Kindness and Civility in Society?

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A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mt 12:25)

As civil discourse deteriorates in our country, we run the risk of establishing a new and very negative “normative” for human behavior. Much of the responsibility for this trend rests with government officials who lie and demean others, rather than offer a truthful and positive vision for our future. Many church leaders have also contributed to this trend through their disingenuous governing of the church. This flagrant disregard for traditional values by public figures has encouraged others to follow their lead and make civility and truth-telling in society an increasingly bygone expectation of another time.

However, if we listen deeper, there are voices calling for a return to our better selves. In his closing statement at the Michael Cohen congressional hearing last week, the liberal politician Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland commented on the criminal behavior that brought Cohen before Congress, “as a country,” he said, “we are so much better than this.” He then added, the greatest gift we “can give to our children, is making sure we give them a democracy that is intact.”

Moreover, the conservative Washington analyst, Arthur C. Brooks, recently commented that despite our differences we must learn “never to treat others with contempt,” … that noxious brew that “makes political compromise and progress impossible.” . These two men speak from opposite political perspectives, but each has recognized the moral crisis we must emerge from if we are to leave a better future for succeeding generations. As Brooks reminds us, we need leaders, “who uplift and unite, not denigrate and divide.”

A Faith That Does Justice will address Kindness and Civility in Society: A Call to Common Purpose, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Please join us to learn about a return to our better selves, and to experience what promises to be an illuminating evening.

Peter W. Gyves, SJ, MD
A Faith That Does Justice

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