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Perspectives on Civility: Resources

"Ten Commandments" for Civil Political Engagement

1. Do not bestow "god-like" qualities on candidates or elected officials.

They are fallible individuals like the rest of us, who despite their efforts, will disappoint you and fail to meet your otherwise unrealistic expectations.

2. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

Assume the best of others, and even when you disagree, demonstrate an attitude of respect through your words, actions and heart-attitude (private thoughts).

3. Build mutual relationships.

As with all other persons in your life (friends, spouse, children, co-workers, etc.), making genuine efforts to get to know one another builds a sense of community, creates common bonds, and establishes commitment to tackle tough issues together and seeks to genuinely assist each other.

4. Seek to understand perspectives that differ from yours.

Identify the background, experiences and motivations of others, which will likely produce surprising levels of understanding and appreciation for each other's perspectives.

5. Serve more than you expect to be served.

Approach others in such a way that you are willing to help them with a need or share your experiences and understanding of issues. This will go far better than simply demanding that something be done for you.

6. Love your adversaries.

Even when you disagree with someone, you need not be disagreeable. By demonstrating love, you will build a concern and compassion for their struggles and will likely find common-ground solutions.

7. Speak the truth in love.

Speaking in combative and bombastic tirades will accomplish little to build understanding. Communicating core principles you view as non-negotiable must also be accompanied with love.

8. Put your money where your mouth is.

Financial resources are necessary tools of running a credible, effective campaign. While there are abuses of money, there are ethical and legal methods through which candidates and social causes do their work. Consider giving your financial support. The funds can then be used to support education of a broader voting public by paying for staff, campaign literature, mailings, websites, media ads, etc.

9. Give Thanks

Everyone likes to be told they're doing a good job. Don't contact lawmakers only to complain or express how your views are in contrast to theirs. Take time to offer a word of appreciation to a lawmaker when they do something you like.

10. Pray

Prayer is the ultimate act of genuine submission, recognizing our weaknesses, uplifting others, and seeking divine wisdom and understanding.

 

Upcoming Event

October 4, 2012; 4 p.m.
Panel discussion with group members in the Commons Lecture Hall. Refreshments and lively discussion provided. Contact sbuist@calvin.edu for more information.
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Civility