Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beyond

I can't stand the term "civility."
I should say, I can't stand what our culture has done to the word.

Civility is a word used to describe politeness and courtesy within one's interactions with others. Especially those who may not agree with you.

Now, however, civility is often used as a political tool. The word has lost its meaning to those who use it. Our leaders preach about being civil to one another, then refuse to practice what they preach. It's quite saddening really. One of my biggest frustrations in life is seeing words, concepts, and ideals twisted from what they were intended to be. Civility is a big one.

When it all comes down to it, the idea of civility actually stems from the Golden Rule.
"Treat others the way you want to be treated."

This ethical truth, is a maxim that runs through many different faiths, moral systems, and has even been the basis for entire cultures.

It's a beautiful idea, a way of life that should be striven for. Yet, in typical human fashion, we often try to take this principle and bend it to our liking. We expect others to give to us, without having to give in return.

So when I turn on the T.V. and see different presidents, and leaders, talk about reaching across the aisles, being civil in their discourses then doing the opposite, it frustrates me to no end.

Here is the finer point of this post today...

As a child growing up my parents instilled, within my sisters and me, the understanding that each individual is a human, first. It's this lesson that's proved to be invaluable in my pursuit of trying to live according to the Golden Rule.

Our whole problem in society, and I touched on this a bit in the .identity? post, is that we are too quick to label others. We're too quick to isolate one aspect of an individual, and make that into all they are. If some one's a progressive they must be pro-choice, if some one's conservative they must be greedy and love war. If a guy is straight, all he must care about is sex. If a guy is gay, he must love shopping.

And while each of these things may or may not be true, what happens is that (if we disagree, or are at odds with another person) they can lose their humanity to us, and simply become that label.

When I look at someone who I completely disagree with, on just about every issue of life and how it should be lived, I try to look at them as another human first.

Because when you do that you begin with commonality, not division. You begin in the same place, and can also begin to appreciate the person, even if you disagree on the issues.

You like polka music? Great. I hate polka music, but you're another human being, and I respect that.
If you're gay or straight it doesn't matter to me, because your definition as a person goes far beyond your sexual orientation. You exist to dream, innovate and create, and all of those things can happen with or without a romantic component.

If you're liberal, conservative or even non-political it doesn't matter.
If you're from another culture, it doesn't matter.
If you're from another faith group... It. Doesn't. Matter.

We're first and foremost humans. We share a common thread, and no matter how badly our worldviews may clash, I resolve to treat you with the dignity, I believe, you deserve.

It actually sucks quite a lot when people judge me on, say, my political choices, or my personal beliefs about faith, and refuse to get to know me as a person. I'm more than who I choose to vote for. I'm Josh. I like Guitar Hero, and love music. I like to go camping, and love my family. There's so much of me that another could miss if they just wrote me off because of my ideals for government, and leadership, or the God I place my faith in.

This actually raises one final point, and then I'll conclude today. As a follower of Christ, this idea of the Golden Rule isn't optional. No matter how badly another person may treat you. No matter what labels they try to assign you, you are still called to treat them, as you wish to be treated.

It does no good to talk a talk, but then to refuse to walk. So many people in this culture do it. Our leaders, co-workers, friends even. But not once will that ever justify conforming to this standard.

It isn't out of desire for superiority that one should pursue this, it's out of genuine love. Not expecting anything in return. Because as hard as things may become when you try to live this kind of life, you find yourself sleeping more freely at night. You find a peace in your soul that tells you your actions have been just.

It's a fantastic feeling, meeting people on the human level...

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