“Civility is the behavior that marks mutual acknowledgement that we individuals share common, public, and political space. Think about the platforms through which you interact with people all day, the media that we call social, but if anything, have enhanced our ability to be asocial.
To screen every element of society, culture and politics that doesn’t suit or flatter or soothe us; thereby, removing the necessity for civility in the first place.”
– Daniel Mendelsohn
Graciousness, goodness, civility—all of this helps us to maintain a sense of calm and peace. Did you know anxiety is one of the most prevalent challenges we face in the U.S.? Nearly one 1/5 of our population experiences it. Yet only 1/3 try to find help.1 They are hurting… and continue to hurt.
Where do we think this anxiety is coming from? First, it’s coming from disconnectedness. We aren’t really getting the nurturance and love that we need from one-on-one interactions. And those interactions need to be with people we don’t know, and with people we do.
With people we do know, we build upon positive loving actions that make them become habit and security. With people we don’t know, it enforces the need to extend ourselves, to spread love and to give back. Both are essential.
If we want more civility, that means that we need to slow down. If we want more civility, that means less screen time. If we want more civility, that means that we care and express our love for more people. It’s that simple. And who doesn’t want to love more? So let’s try.
May you live a civil day today, may you live it with care for everyone in every word that you give out, in every touch, and every comment that you make. And in every thought, so that in our minds and in our actions, civility becomes the natural way again.
How we all long for graciousness and civility!
Daniel Mendelsohn is a classist, writer, and critic. A graduate of Princeton’s graduate school, he published work on Euripidean tragedy before he went on to become a contributor to publications such as The New York Times, Out, The Nation and more. He was born in Long Island and raised in Old Bethage, New York. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia in Classics. He writes reviews on books, films, theater and television. He has won Princeton University’s James Madison Medal in 2018, American Philological Association President’s Award for service to the Classics in 2014 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters award for Prose Style in 2014. Currently, he is a professor at Bard College. He is also the director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, which supports writers. In his free time, Mendelsohn enjoys watching television and going to the movie theater. He has two children and four siblings, including a brother who is a film director, another brother who is a photographer and a sister who is a journalist.