Civility and Community

A community (at its best) represents a group of people who may vehemently disagree about almost anything yet despite this are still prepared to give opposing viewpoints a fair hearing.

To me, this tension is best represented in the rather old fashioned word of “civility”.  While its roots are old, I feel it has increasing relevance today.

The word’s origins lie in the salons of c16/ 17 France- where ideas, insurrection and intrigue ruled.  Often run by daring and colourful characters, these beta-test networking sessions used the supposedly genteel concept of civility as a veil for discourse, discussion and debate.

In the absence of social media, salon dwellers realised that the best way of spreading revolutionary ideas was face to face, using polite society gatherings as the vector.

Being civil is a prerequisite for a community, but so is the ability to disagree and argue, without recourse to violence.  Civility encompasses both politeness and passion.  In essence civility is about the rational and emotional response in one.  Good manners, yes but also a robustness, as needed.

Perhaps now as communities across the UK face unprecedented challenges, maybe civility is due a relaunch?

Author info
Patrick is a human rights campaigner who thinks civility is a rather good concept.

This entry was posted in Big Society, Small Communities, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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