The community of Duluth, Minnesota is leading the way to a more civil discourse with their Speak Your Peace Civility Project. The purpose is to facilitate more respectful and effective communication. This is not a campaign to end disagreements. It is a campaign to improve public dialogue by simply reminding themselves of the very basic principles of respect. (Their key message is to promote the following nine simple tools for practicing civility, taken from P. M. Forni’s book Choosing Civility.)
Pay Attention. Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.
Listen. Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.
Be Inclusive. Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.
Don’t Gossip. And don’t accept when others choose to do so.
Show Respect. Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of disagreement.
Be Agreeable. Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so.
Apologize. Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.
Give Constructive Criticism. When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.
Take Responsibility. Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others; share disagreements publicly.
In other words—it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
The members of the community of Duluth have taken it upon themselves to be more civil with each other. Chew on that idea for awhile.
Kindness is not wimpy. Kindness can be very hard work, requiring courage. We could all do with more of it. So by all means, speak your mind. Disagree. Even criticize. But speak your piece peacefully.
Think of what we could have.