At The Bulwark, Alexandra Hudson lists 8 ways to promote tolerance, reduce partisanship, and restore and reenergize civility:
- Remember that reasonable minds will disagree on important subjects. Civility means that even unreasonable minds deserve some level of respect. This is because our disagreement does not negate our irreducible value as persons. In fact, it’s when we differ from, or disagree with, others—especially on topics of great weight—that we need civility most. Civility requires that we owe a bare minimum of respect to others, even when we vehemently disagree.
- Unbundle people. Resist the temptation to define people by one aspect of who they are or by their worst trait or decision. Unbundling people can help us reclaim a full, nuanced, and rich view of the human person. It can help us see the part in light of the whole, mistakes in light of virtues. Each of us is a little bit good and a little bit bad. Let’s recognize and embrace this aspect of our humanity and not view the world and others through a cheapened, static simplicity.
- When you get into a disagreement with a friend or family member, remember context—the entirety of the history and relationship you have with them. Keep that front of mind when you get into disagreements. Don’t let disagreements—even disagreements on big, important issues—be the focal point of your relationship. There’s more to life than politics. Having relationships is the life well-lived.
- Remember the transformative power of friendship. Allowing ourselves to surrender self-love—and to be formed, inspired, and motivated to regularly surrender self-love—enables us to discover eudaimonic friendship that deepens our soul, makes us more human and humane, and helps us thrive personally and socially.
- Stay curious about the many reasons people come to their beliefs about the world. Remember that everyone has something to teach us.
- Don’t publicly shame and abuse others—don’t exert power over them while they are defenseless. Instead of bludgeoning and silencing people into conformity, civility empowers diversity of expression—and, crucially, cultural tolerance of diverse views.
- Form friendships across difference, and then strive to be taught and formed by friendship. Basic trust, affection, and friendship makes navigating difference with others easier. Trust and friendship can be cultivated. But—like civilization itself—they are fragile and can easily be broken. They must be vigilantly nurtured in order for them to prevail.
- Finally, remember the difference between civility and politeness. Politeness relates to the form, the technique, of an act. Civility is deeper; it speaks to the motivation behind our conduct that sees other persons as our moral equals and worthy of basic respect. True friendship requires civil truth-telling in love, not patronizing politeness.