Last week, two more stories from airlines provide even more evidence that civility is on the decline.
On Monday night a riot occurred at the Spirit Airlines gate at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. Angry customers protested Spirit’s cancellation of nine flights. Then on Tuesday, a fight broke out between three passengers on board a taxiing Southwest Airlines flight. Authorities have publicized no reason for the fight.
Yes, civility is on the decline. Dictionary.Com defines civility thusly:
- courtesy; politeness.
- a polite action or expression: an exchange of civilities.
- Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding.
Where have our manners gone?
Why the Lack of Civility?
It seems these days when things do not go someone’s way they default to riots, protests, and mob scenes. Several factors have brought us to this point in society.
- The rise of me-ism. Individual rights now seem to matter more that the good of the whole.
- The absence of self-discipline. Many are accustomed to getting what they want when they want it.
- The glorification of chaos. Let’s face it; trouble makes the news. Want to get your 15 seconds of fame? Start a riot or protest.
How May We Regain Civility?
The sad part of it all is that this same absence of civility has found its way into church life. A few days ago, a local church made the news after a brawl broke out during a church “business” meeting. The congregation was voting on the status of the pastor and congregants who disagreed became very disagreeable. That church is not the only church with a similar story.
Consider some Biblical guidance that helps us keep a check on our civility.
Put others before ourselves. Philippians 2:3: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
The best remedy for me-ism is “them-ism.” We can defuse potentially chaotic circumstances when we put our perceived rights secondary to the good of others. We don’t have to always get our way. In fact, we don’t have to get our way anytime. We can look out for the needs of others and commit “our way” to the Lord. He will make sure it turns our good for us.
Eliminate negativity. Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
Negativity is more contagious than the worst stomach bug and twice as nauseating. We are more likely to contribute to the lack of civility when we foster a negative spirit. Jesus said our mouth speaks from the overflow of our heart (Matthew 12:24). Negative words indicate a heart issue. When we eliminate negativity we diffuse a positive element to the chaos that may break out around us.
Personal responsibility. Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
The only person whose actions I can control is the person who stares back at me in the mirror. I choose my actions and reactions; no one forces any of them upon me. I may not be able to change the whole world, but I can at least take responsibility for my personal “bubble.”
What kind of person will you be: one who fuels the fire or one who douses the flames of dissension?
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” It’s time we start living up to our calling.
This post originally appeared on Jim Duggan’s blog.