Civil: adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse Noun 1. social intercourse - communication between individuals
intercommunication - mutual communication; communication with each other; "they intercepted intercommunication between enemy ships" ; not deficient de·fi·cient
1. Lacking an essential quality or element.
2. Inadequate in amount or degree; insufficient.
a state of being in deficit. in common courtesy
Discourse: communication of thought by words; talk; conversation
We hear a lot these days about the poor quality of debate and dialogue in this country, especially as we move through a presidential election year. Complaints abound about the extent of negativity and lack of respect for those with differing viewpoints. And, of course, we see it daily on television as proponents of opposing points of view shout at each other, listening only to themselves and not to each other, and competing to see who can yell the loudest.
This growing incivility in·ci·vil·i·ty
n. pl. in·ci·vil·i·ties
1. The quality or condition of being uncivil.
2. An uncivil or discourteous act. in the nation--this lack of civil discourse--endangers our democracy. And it sadly goes beyond the boundaries of political campaigns and the daily debates we see on television. Incivility has begun to permeate permeate /per·me·ate/ (-at?)
1. to penetrate or pass through, as through a filter.
2. the constituents of a solution or suspension that pass through a filter.
v. society in general. The League has always counted on citizens to regulate themselves in their discourse and to show respect for those who hold differing opinions. Unfortunately, such self-regulation is declining and disintegrating.
The League of Women Voters League of Women Voters, voluntary public service organization of U.S. citizens. Organized in 1920 in Chicago as an outgrowth of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, it had as its original nucleus the leaders of the latter organization. has always stood for honest debate and civil discourse. Indeed, we pride ourselves on being an organization within which one can engage in a rational and respectful re·spect·ful
Showing or marked by proper respect.
re·spectful·ly adv. discussion about an issue with those of opposing viewpoints. That is one of our treasured values.
The League's high standard for discourse has long been a model in our communities. And so, in this election year, let us each rededicate Verb 1. rededicate - dedicate anew; "They were asked to rededicate themselves to their country"
dedicate, devote, commit, consecrate, give - give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause; "She committed herself to the work of God"; "give one's talents to a ourselves to encouraging the highest standards of civility by sharing and promoting our values at every opportunity. Lack of respect for others and their opinions has no place in our nation. Fair debate and civility do. Civil discourse is essential to the resolution of complex problems and the promotion of effective democracy.
Democracy is a means of living together despite our differences. Democratic deliberation is an alternative to physical violence. It is predicated on the assumption that it's possible to disagree agreeably, that it's better to laugh than cry, that one can vigorously contest the positions of one's adversary without questioning his or her personal integrity or motivation, and that parties to a debate are entitled to the presumption that their views are legitimate if not correct.
--Thomas Mann, Forum on "Civil Discourse and American Politics: Reality and Responsibility," sponsored by the Wood-stock Theological Center, May 1997.
BY KAY J. MAXWELL
LWVUS LWVUS League of Women Voters of the United States President