Psychologist and professor Kenneth J. Gergen describes civil discourse as “the language of dispassionate objectivity”, and suggests that it requires respect of the other participants, such as the reader. It neither diminishes the other’s moral worth, nor questions their good judgment; it avoids hostility, direct antagonism, or excessive persuasion; it requires modesty and an appreciation for the other participant’s experiences.(Wikipedia)
A fellow ag journalist recently engaged in civil discourse when he courteously disagreed with me in his opinion column. I thank him for that – not because I enjoy being disagreed with but because he was willing to honor my point of view while expressing a differing opinion. That’s the way it should be.
It seems that many of today’s more outspoken voices have read and subscribed to the Saul Alinsky Book “Rules for Radicals.” The way I read it, the book encourages conflict, not conflict resolution. It’s not about finding common ground or even agreeing to disagree. It’s about winning an argument at any cost. There’s nothing civil about it.
Only when the privilege of disagreement is honored can dissenting parties begin to discuss their differences and find that, often, there are areas of agreement that lead to acceptable resolutions.
I’m sure some will disagree. Please do so honestly and thoughtfully and perhaps the process will be more productive.