Civility - does it exist in our political process any more? Is compromise now a dirty word? Are we a nation divided against ourselves? And if we are, what can we do to heal the widening breaches? This week, I attended a lecture at the Rotary Club of West U (www.westurotary.org) that addressed exactly these issues.
Cassandra Dahnke, of the Institute for Civility in Government, believes that there are two key threats to a nation’s political health:
- Apathy – evidenced by a lack of participation at all levels of government, for our neighborhoods to our Capitol, and
- Polarization – the fragmentation of our society along lines of race, socioeconomic groups, religion, age, politics and special interests.
Any nation experiencing both polarization and citizen apathy is a nation seriously at risk.
Cassandra and the Institute for Civility in Government do not endorse any political candidate or position. Instead, they promote the process of civil discourse by teaching civility training workshops, organizing congressional student forums, and taking groups of high school student to Washington DC to experience government first hand. Through their activities, they promote listening and communication skills, the importance of teamwork, resources for building civility, and a respect for other belief systems.
So there is something we can all do! For more information (or to join the non-profit, 501 (c)3 Institute for Civility in Government) go to their website at www.instituteforcivility.org.