The Death of Civility

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I was watching the gridiron slugfest between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon. There were 19 penalties totaling 163 yards and the rain that drenched the field in the second half even added more drama to the hard-fought contest between the two SEC schools. South Carolina eventually won by a score of 34 to 32.

Before the game was over my wife came home from shopping (she bought me two half gallons of Turkey Hill brand raspberry ice cream from Kroger – what a great wife). However, as she came in the door, she said, “It’s 3:20 and time for the Senate to vote on the President’s Supreme Court nominee.”

I was glad she reminded me of the vote and I changed the channel to FOX News and began to listen to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeal for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Vice President Pence then proceeded to ask for the roll call of senators in order record their vote. That is when individuals in the gallery of the Senate chamber began to shout in protest of the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. Those who are privileged to sit in the gallery for such significant votes must agree ahead of time not to express their approval or disapproval. The protestors were obviously in violation of Senate gallery protocol.

CNN reported that the demonstrators stood up one by one in different sections of the gallery, most with their fists raised, and yelled, “I will not consent.” There were 27 dissenters arrested prior to and during the successful vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

I was suddenly observing something in the United States Senate that appeared to have a striking resemblance to the penalty-ridden football game I had been watching before my wife reminded me of the confirmation vote on Judge Kavanaugh. I suppose the arrests were comparable to the penalty flags being thrown in the football game.

At the confirmation vote, Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona was called “a coward” when he voted to confirm the Judge. On the previous day, when Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced that he would vote to confirm the judge he was shouted down by protesters saying, “Shame, shame, shame.”

On Saturday, however, the gallery became unhinged, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to repeat over and over, “The sergeant of arms will restore order in the gallery.”

Later on Saturday afternoon a large crowd of protestors surged onto the front steps of the Supreme Court building, banged on the doors and shouted, “Kavanaugh has got to go.” They were there to demonstrate their objection to the Judge being sworn into his role as a Supreme Court Justice.

I believe in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which gives to us “the right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Furthermore, I am not opposed to civil disobedience.

But I fear that we are witnessing the death of civility in our day. From congressional proceedings and campaigning politicians to random internet comments and road rage, it appears that we are living in an increasingly uncivil society.

Lee Woodruff, best-selling author, writes, “All around us, in every corner of American life, we’re witnessing the death of civility. It’s a cocky sense of entitlement, a tone-deafness to rude behavior that has been growing in strength like a tumor.

“The current political landscape, more slinging mud than talking solutions, feels like another tentacle wrapping itself around our collective conscious, cutting off the blood supply of decency.”

As disheartening as this incivility epidemic may be, the Apostle Paul told us that it was coming. He wrote, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3: 1-4).

Until Jesus comes we must live out our faith, practice the Golden Rule in Matthew 5:44, recognize and apologize for our own rudeness, prefer others above ourselves, and make sure the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in our lives.

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