Rancor in politics, especially these days, may be the norm, but a nationwide effort is underway to remind people that civility in political discussions is a virtue.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is introducing the Civilize It campaign Nov. 3 at parishes around the country. It stresses that respectful dialogue — rather than name-calling and nasty barbs — can occur among people with differing political views.
“In part, this campaign is really in response to the vitriol that we see in public discourse on both sides of the aisle,” said Jill Rauh, director of education and outreach in the department.
Civilize It also is part of a wider campaign known as Golden Rule 2020 being undertaken by the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona starting Nov. 3.
Cheryl Graeve, national organizer for the institute, said the campaign’s title is rooted in the widely held value among religious and non-religious people and Christians and non-Christians of “treating another person as you expect to be treated.”
“We’re increasingly concerned about the lessening of trust between people and government and for helping strengthen our democracy,” she said.
The program emphasizes the development of personal behavior to soften the angry rhetoric and harsh language that can emerge in any discussion about politics, explained Theo Brown, director of faith-based programs at the institute.
“We think the Golden Rule is a practical strategy because really it is a transformational thing. It can help transform that hostile behavior. We’re trying to break the cycle (of incivility). It’s very difficult,” Brown said.