argueNo Name Calling Week kickoff on Martin Luther King Jr Day.

It is an appropiate launch day.  Name calling degrades people. It insults their humanity and obliterates their dignity. It removes civility.

Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements.

Today, name-calling and vulgarity fill the halls of Congress, negative political ads attack character over substance, and reality show television encourages self-regard over the common good. Shows like “The Apprentice” and “Survivor” highlight back-stabbing behavior as admirable and winning qualities

Virtues like empathy, humility, integrity, honesty, and respect for others are ideals of democratic engagement.” Without civility a society can morph into verbal, accusatory, offensive verbal attacks on one another which is the way things are headed in the U.S.

It seems today, more than ever before, we are witnessing uncivil behavior. We hear about one group of people with a distinct point of view making offensive comments to others with an opposing view. Protesters in our streets are kept at arms-length by the police to avoid violent behavior that might harm others. On college campuses, we increasingly hear about some students shouting down or walking out on speakers because they don’t like the message. What’s lost is the ability to have a productive dialogue about our differences.

This week, instead of calling someone a name and insulting them, pause. Yes, I said pause. Listen to the other person. See them as a person.

Here are 4 other ways to advance beyond name calling.

  1. Think about the impact of our words and actions on others first
  2. Disagree with intelligence, humor, and civil discourse
  3. Challenge people’s views but don’t attack the person
  4. Don’t let anger and emotion get in the way of listening to others.

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