In this age of political divide, it’s clear that people have stopped treating one another with courtesy and respect. I have colleagues and friends from the far left to the far right and everywhere in between, yet any conversation about political issues quickly devolves into anger and hostility. Unfortunately, my Facebook page in particular has become a place where friends of mine attack each other. After lashing out, conversations seem to end quickly.
What happened to civility? What happened to having constructive conversations about difficult topics, without personally attacking someone?
In the media, we regularly see elected officials behaving in a similar manner. This behavior and the harsh tones have become an undercurrent in society—at the workplace, in the grocery store, on the little league field, and in our communities.
Many community associations across the country are recognizing this as an issue and have taken steps to bring tolerance, respect, and civility back to the forefront. Sunriver Owners Association in Oregon is one such community. Its board of directors recently adopted the following Code of Civility:
We, the Board members of the Sunriver Owners Association, expect our community climate to be safe, secure, mutually respectful, and tolerant of its staff, volunteers and all of its members.
We expect a community free of incidents that create a hostile working or living environment.
We expect a healthy and responsible attitude to accompany all interactions in the community.
We expect all SROA members and guests to respect association staff and volunteers and other persons in the community regardless of their actual or perceived age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
A vibrant, thriving community is made up of individuals who model these standards and hold each other accountable. In order for the community to encompass the goals outlined above, each individual must be responsible and accountable for her or his own actions and words.
While it may be disheartening that these steps to bring civility back to our communities need to be taken, it is our current reality. So, congratulations, Sunriver Owners Association. I hope more community associations across the country follow suit and adopt similar codes. Frankly, I hope our elected officials do too.
You’ll be able to read more about civility codes when the Jan/Feb issue of Common Ground TM magazine hits your mailboxes and inboxes in early January.
For more resources that address the political polarization in our country and its impact on communities, check out the following:
“Divide and Conquer”, Common Ground TM magazine May/June 2018: https://www.caionline.org/CommonGround/magazine/Pages/Divide-and-Conquer.aspx
Better Angels – https://www.better-angels.org/
Partisan Polarization – https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/05/16/the-top-14-causes-of-political-polarization/
Pew – http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/05/takeaways-on-americans-growing-partisan-divide-over-political-values/