Youth & Civility


Image by Benzoix - Freepik.com

Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody is ignored.

Society is more mobile than ever. People are reaching for their smartphones or iPad rather than having conversations with the person sitting next to them on the bus or at the coffee shop. What use to be word-of-mouth has now become the latest 280 character tweet. When was the last time you were walking down the sidewalk and you passed a stranger and you both said "Hi" to each other. Just the exchange of pleasantries is a form of civility.

Civility is essential for the success of any society. It is grounded in respect and in an attitude of inclusiveness. When civility and inclusiveness is practiced, it is a reminder about the impact actions on others while contributing to the well-being of family, community and society at large.
Social inclusion involves the building of personal capacities and material resources, to fulfill one’s potential for economic and social participation, and making all groups of people within a society feel valued and important.
Social exclusion involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities available to the majority of people in society, whether in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole.


CivilityThe Consequences of Incivility
Incivility could lead to Cyberbullying: According to research by the Pew Research Center, 92 per cent of American teens go online every day. Social media is one of the most used types of websites by teenagers. Connecting with other people can be a great thing, but it also brings many issues. Cyberbullying can include:
  Posting negative comments on pictures.
  Posting abusive posts on a user’s wall.
  Using pictures or videos to make fun of another user.
  Using social media to stalk.
  Hacking an account or fraudulently making posts as though another wrote them.
Many of the acts of bullying on social media are similar to what they would be in a real-life situation, only in digital form. The impact of the problem is also similar.

Youth Civility Partnership
The Youth Civility Partnership is a project of Washington Masonic Charities that is working to bring together the Masonic Family Civility Project, National Masonic Foundation for Children, Masonic Youth Groups, Masonic Lodges, community organizations, and local schools to change course and to promote civility so that we all can enjoy a better future together. As part of this project we are exploring opportunities to assist youth groups, local schools, and youth serving organizations on how to focus on civility, tolerance and respect.

This project will provide exciting, informative, and engaging civility-education opportunities for young people to learn how to “Be The Difference,” and to create positive energy within yourself, your families, schools, and community.


ABOUT CIVIL DIALOGUE SESSIONS
Civil Dialogue provides a place for civilized, facilitated citizen dialogues about the issues of our times. In a Civil Dialogue session, volunteer participants consider a provocative statement and have the opportunity to embody a position on the statement ranging from "agree strongly" to "disagree strongly." Participants are asked to follow guidelines for civility that are explained by the facilitator. The dialogue is then extended to the broader audience who are encouraged to respond with their own opinions and questions. The format was created at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University and continues to be developed by John Genette, Jennifer Linde, Clark Olson, and other scholars.


Now, Washington Masonic Charities brings it to Masonic Youth Groups, Schools, and other youth serving organizations. For more information about bringing a Civil Dialogue Session to your group in Washington state contact: Kurt Miller: kurt@wa-masoniccharities.org


Videos of a Civil Dialogue Session

2017 Weber/Shandwick Poll:
A record high 69 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. The voters agreed that political incivility affects the reputation of the U.S. (86 percent); that uncivil comments by political leaders encourages greater incivility in society (79 percent); that incivility leads to less political engagement on the part of the American people (75 percent); that the U.S. is losing stature as a civil nation (73 percent) and that incivility deters people from entering public service (59 percent). A third of Americans (31 percent) agreed that there is nothing wrong with a politician saying what is on their mind, no matter how uncivil.
                       Civility
2017 Harvard Youth Poll
A Majority Believe Tone and Civility Have Decreased in American Politics: More than three in five 18-29 year olds believe the overall tone and level of civility in American politics over the last five years have decreased (Decreased: 62%; Stayed the Same: 27%; Increased: 11%). A majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, agree about the decrease in civility (Democrats: 54%; Republicans: 72%; Independents: 67%).
Post-Election One-Quarter of 18-29 Year Olds Are Motivated to Get Involved: Since the last election, 25% of young Americans say they are more motivated to get involved in politics and public service. Taking into account the size of the millennial generation, this signifies that approximately 14 million young Americans want to be engaged.

List of Resources on Civility
MasonicCivility.org The Freemasons and Civility: a site for resources and ideas for restoring civility in our society utilizing the Masonic values, tenets, language and working tools.
The Civility Center
National Masonic Foundation for Children
Read George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility.
The Institute for Civility in Government
5 Actions to Help Students Embrace Civility
Weber Shandwick Report on Civility
Printed Materials on Bullying, Sexting, & Teen Suicide
10 Leading Causes of Unintentional/Violent Deaths, By Age
NoBullying.com
Social Media Bullying
StopBullying.gov
National Crime Prevention Council
The Relationship Between Bullying & Suicide
Where To Get Help for Bullying
More Help if Being Bullied
Information on Underage Drinking
Underage Drinking in Washington State