President George Washington's "Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation"President George Washington’s “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation

Civility is derived from the Latin civis, meaning “citizen“. However, civility is not limited to actions by an individual in his or her capacity as a citizen.

Civility is the action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes. Some definitions conflate civility with politeness, which suggests disengaging with others so as not to offend (“roll over and play dead”…). The notion of positively constructive civility suggests robust, even passionate, engagement framed in respect of differing views. In his call for restoring civility, Pastor Rick Warren said, “In America, we’ve got to learn how to disagree without demonizing each other.” Pastor Warren was speaking metaphorically, but the fundamental principle he is trying to restore is the idea that people can still work together even if they do not always absolutely agree with each other’s point of view.

Community, choices, conscience, character are all elements directly related to civility. Civility is more than just having manners, because it involves developing a civil attitude and civil responsibility. Civility often forms more meaningful friendships and relationships, with an underlying tone of civic duty to help more than the sum of its whole.

When people engage in conversation together with civility being a focal point of the outcome in the situation, this is commonly referred to as civil discourse. Kenneth J. Gergen, an American psychologist, suggested that the opinions of all people from all parties must be respected when in civil discourse, as “the language of dispassionate objectivity”.From time immemorial, Freemasonry has promoted democratic habits of honest listening and civil discourse. The origins of the Freemasons dates back to early stonemasons fraternities, and since than has preserved an open environment to allow for a democratic process for alternative ideas.

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George Washington: “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation”  Original Document, Digital Version

“there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should. At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate. And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth. And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.”

  • 2/4/10 President Barack Obama.


Mediator Richard Friedlander says mutual respect is essential to any conflict resolution, and that President Obama has gotten little of it from his opponents.

Tue, Feb 9, 2016 By Richard Friedlander – KQED

Respect is something everyone wants and many even demand. There are at least two kinds of respect: for the person and for the position the person occupies. Both are necessary for anything to function properly: friendship, marriage, business, or government. Many of the workplace mediations I do come down to whether both sides are willing to give the other both kinds of respect, and what pushes them toward doing this is the often-grudging recognition of the fact that while they do not have to love each other or even like each other, they do have a mutual goal requiring their cooperation.

At one time, liberals were presumed to champion individual rights, while conservatives stressed duty to the state. Sometime in the last century, perhaps with the emergence of the activist welfare state and conservatives’ drift toward neoliberalism, these definitions were turned largely on their heads. No matter: the fact remains that rights without responsibilities are meaningless and vice-versa.

In the English Parliament, there is the party in power and the Loyal Opposition, a label that clearly indicates that whatever their agenda, all members serve something greater than themselves – their country – and are never to act tyrannically or sulk uncooperatively in the corner. Arguments can get nasty, yes, but the Loyal Opposition would never think of deliberately sabotaging the ability of the party in power to govern.

For the past eight years, the party in opposition to the man elected to lead this country has completely lost sight of maintaining the balance of respect for person and position so imperative to the founders of our country. Government is an ongoing experiment; this is the glory of our Constitution, a network of checks and balances, not obstructions. But from the moment President Obama took office, the disloyal opposition has had only one, loudly-stated agenda: to restrict the president to a single term. Not by participating in government, but by making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties, and then bashing him for his struggles. They don’t have to like the president or love him. But their lack of respect for him and his office is an attack on the very Constitution that they loudly proclaim they cherish.

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Friedlander.

Richard Friedlander is a mediator and actor living in the East Bay.

For the audio version:


“Being civil was a goal from the birth of nation and is still an honorable thing today”.


Reblogged: Pro President Obama

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