A RENEWED CALL TO RESTORE CIVILITY IN POLITICAL
DEBATES AND OTHER AREAS
By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine
Recently the Wisconsin Council of Churches
and other groups are calling for a Season of Civility, especially before
elections. That does not mean that we eliminate debate about public policies and
issues. Debates include people of different faiths, beliefs, opinions on issues,
both social, political and religious issues. Hostile and abusive rhetoric is not
appropriate in any sphere of life, especially in public debates. Often the
dispute is not only about the issues but especially about the means of achieving
solutions. Wisconsin Cl. of Churches hopes we will share this call with other
congregations and organizations.
We all know the golden rule that calls us to
treat others with the same respect with which we would like to be treated. This
calls for open and honest conversation and the valuing of each person involved
in the discussion. The goal is to arrive at consensus in order to achieve the
common good which our faith requires of us. We are called to reach out and
listen to and try to understand people of differing viewpoints and model
civility in our own conversation in both private and public life.
Our faith communities are where this call to
civility must be lived and practiced.
**Civility must be practiced within
congregations, assemblies and other forums.
**We need to clarify our own positions
on issues and to articulate them clearly and respectfully and be open to
explanation or clarification.
**We are aware that we do not always
know the correct or adequate answers to problem and we must be open to
correction and reconsideration, without betraying our own convictions.
**When political debates are arranged,
we must inform the candidates of standards of civility, integrity and
truthfulness and not engage in mud-slinging at each other. The media can also
be encouraged to follow the same rules of civility in public discourse. As our
congregations preach about compassion and respect, we will rediscover ways to
listen to and learn from our differences and model for others what a healthy
democracy looks like.
For more information and to get the full
document, go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The effort mentioned here is designed to
develop communities that are unified in their commitment to wholeness, justice
and peace not only in the church but also in the world. This will replace the
partisan rancor and bitterness that now exists within political debates with
respect and civility. We are all encouraged to pray and work together for the
unity and renewal of the church and the healing and reconciliation of our world.
Congregations are encouraged to share this information and call to civility
within congregations and beyond. May peace prevail on earth and let it begin
This information not only applies to
Wisconsin but to all communities across the nation and beyond. The whole idea of
democracy is to heal the partisan divides and to replace them with caring and
just communities working for the common good.