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By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO –

Civility or closed-mindedness. The two perspectives cannot successfully occupy the same space. Can one be civil, and yet not treat others with respect, or apply the principles of justice, equality? Closing our minds and hearts to those around us does not eliminate the racial, religious, economic, educational, or social unrest that exists today in America and the world.

As the end of another year approaches, and we prepare to celebrate yet another Holiday Season when we are harkened back to old family traditions that include taking time to prepare old fashioned homemade meals, getting reacquainted and basking in the comfort of family and friends, it is unlikely that we will be able to totally escape the sense of unease, and disconnectedness we feel about the times we live in today in the United States and the world.

A real sense of unease and disconnectedness pervades our psyche about the global civilized world we thought was emerging in its fullest sense, as we embraced the dawn of the 21st century just over a decade ago, to one that seems today rifted with racial, cultural, religious, and economic chasms so wide that they appear to be permanent divides.

Civility or Closed-Mindedness

Where has the pre-eminent tenet, of always working to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, and the notion that civility should rule the day, gone? What is the prevalent mindset at play, civility or closed-mindedness?

The forces, evil and otherwise, that brought us to this point in human civilization have been brewing for a long, long time. And unfortunately, many of us still may not have gotten the message.

During the last decade, we have been attacked on our own soil. We seem to be in the grip of an economic downturn with no immediate relief in site. We have been subjected to pillage and rape by corporate greed and phantom investment practices that have gone unchecked. We have managed to send representatives, of the people to Washington, who have been unable to get the people’s agenda done because of personal agendas of their own.

Where has fighting for the common good and practicing civility gone? Has it fallen victim to close-mindedness?

It is little wonder that we long for the way things used to be. We wish we could go on with our lives, working to fulfill our dreams and making the world better than we found it just as we always have in the sovereign American way.

But could it be, that amidst all the political impasse, economic uncertainty, and compromised sense of safety, there is greater opportunity to reconnect with some fundamental and inescapable tenets of a healthy society that we may have lost sight of?

It really boils down to some serious reflections. Each of us needs to rid ourselves of those thoughts and habits that may not foster positive societal outcomes like:

  • Civility or closed-mindedness

    Civility or closed-mindedness, a time for reflection. Photo credit:

    As much as we may have been told or would like to believe, no individual, race, or country is the center of the universe. We all occupy space. We all have purpose and roles to play. Why can’t we find more mutual respect and more common ground to address common challenges and problems that could advance all society?

  • The sustained quality of one’s life need not be built on the backs of other human beings. The oppressed eventually rise. History is replete with examples and the Occupy Movement, occurring all across America and in many places across the globe, is just another.
  • One does not have to go about his or her daily affairs with utter, even partial, disregard for their neighbor, colleague, friend, relative, or a stranger.
  • Ignorance, perhaps, is bliss, only in love and only for a time. Ignorance generally is the breeding ground for vulnerability, and remaining at a costly disadvantage.
  • Burying one’s head in the sand solves nothing. We learned that from the ostrich.

As we come to the close of another year, celebrate another holiday season, perhaps it should be more than tradition as usual. Tradition as usual may have allowed us to become complacent and accepting of the human degradation and atrocities right here on American soil and abroad.

We have either not paid very much attention or we have been totally oblivious to the many ugly forces — religious fanaticism, ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination, and economic exploitation — that reign in our immediate and distant world. Civility or closed-mindedness.

Religious intolerance and racial hatred are not new. Unfortunately, they occupy too many pages in the history of too many countries. They are the ties of human nature that bind us — the ugly equalizer.

Understand that being different doesn’t automatically mean better or worse, it simply means different. How you view being different can be enlightening or enslaving.

How much longer can we afford to refuse to see, acknowledge, and try to understand the different among us, rather than shun, alienate, or exploit them?

The misuse of money, power, and ingenuity has often made it easy for us to ignore an age old premise: It is the kinship, and mutual respect afforded to and by each of us around the table of humanity which will ultimately save us, or the lack thereof will bring our own demise. Perhaps we have omitted these realizations in our conversations.

When we look around us, in our homes, in our religious, educational, and political institutions, discussing the need to return to civility should be as much apart of any dialogue or discussion as the subject at hand.

If not, how can we expect things to get better?

Feature Photo Credit:

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis
Janice S. Ellis, PhD, is an award-winning author. Her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers. She has written a column for newspapers, radio, and now online, where she analyzes educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. You can see her writings on this website.

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