Miley Cyrus who believes Donald Trump is a “F—king nightmare,” has said she’d “move out da country” if Trump wins. But wait there’s more. Far more. And in an age of positive psychology, meditation, gratitude journaling, “Namasta-ing” each other, and of course the multitude of mindfulness practices in schools and the workplace, what up with that?
What is going on with our increasing inability to have a civil conversation with each other without screaming, vilifying and threatening others? Strife, incivility, conflict, antagonism, quarrel, struggle, competition, raging disagreement and opposition in America are rampant.
Raven-Symone is planning to move to Canada with her entire family, while Samuel Jackson on the Jimmy Kimmel show said, “If that motherf—ker becomes president, I will move my Black a— to South Africa.” Jon Stewart weighed in with, “I would consider getting in a rocket and going to another planet, because clearly this planet’s gone bonkers,” and Cher plans to move to Jupiter.
From George Lopez, Rosie O’Donnell, Neve Campbell to Omari Hardwick and Eddie Griffin, who plans to move to Africa – the list goes on and on.
When, how & why has this decline in civility become a mature response in a civilized democratic nation? Imagine an alternative response that promotes, advances & increases understanding and healthy dialogue. Imagine...
The sixth installment of Civility in America from global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick, public affairs firm Powell Tate and KRC Research finds that “Nearly all Americans, 95 percent, say civility is a problem, with three-quarters (74 percent) saying civility has declined in the past few years. 70 percent also say that incivility in this country has risen to ‘crisis’ levels, up from 65 percent in 2014.”
Remember when we lived in a fully civil nation? I don’t. And it’s very likely you don’t either. Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke, Founders of the Institute for Civility in Government describe civility as, “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.” Leaving the country is not an example of this. Being able to disagree respectfully, finding common ground while staying in the present to initiate dialogue about differences, hearing beyond one’s one personal “story” and teaching others, especially our youngsters to do just that, is civil. It is about contracting to make room for others, to step back to make room for the voice of others.
This is not what fleeing America in the face of disagreement is about, and it certainly isn’t about the raging, profitable, anger-stirring headlines we are bombarded with in print and in the airwaves and throughout the Internet. These are not examples of civility.
When did it begin? A quick review of scriptures reveals 43 or so related teachings. Incivility, anger, strife are apparently not restricted to the 2016 election season.
Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in our political system. She says there is no one point, person or event that stirred the decline of civil discourse in our country and notes, “Unfortunately, there is more than enough blame to go around.”
Bullying, name calling, threatening behavior, picking up your ball and leaving the field – we don’t accept these actions in schools and it’s hard enough for parents who are paying attention to teach their children how to behave properly. But when adults, well-known adults, role models, world leaders, act out on the world stage, it becomes even more difficult for parents to do their job.
From the frustrating economy, the failing educational system, the ease of sharing vitriol on the Internet, the lack of family stability, the decline in standard of living, the media stirring our anger while filling their pockets, the notion that one “MUST” have what one “DEMANDS,” the belief that the “customer” is always right no matter what, that it’s “horrible, terrible and awful” when life doesn’t go the way one expects or insists, the sorting of Americans, increased stress, reality TV, “ “view” shows masquerading as “new” shows stirring our negative emotions…the list goes on…we aren’t short on theories about why civility has declined and anger has exploded. We used to think it was TV cartoons that stirred aggression. Maybe they did. And maybe they worked. It got us to watch, right? And it still goes on.
So what can we do? After all, it is entirely up to us. I'm hardly a Bible scholar but I do find it interesting that there are so many wonderful teachings that apply to this very contemporary issue of uncivil behavior and strife.
The entire approach may be summed up, according to Biblical teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Imagine if we actually did that? Isn’t it time for your daily dose of chill? Do you understand the thoughts you have that make this teaching difficult for you? The demands, insistences, and expectations (“D.I.E.”) that you have that life and others “must” be your way making it difficult to love others as you do yourself?
It’s important to know whom to pay attention to and whom not to. Most of the time, isn’t it better to ignore those who just aren’t important to you? Let it roll off your shoulders, and “faggedabowdit.”
Proverbs 29:11 teaches, “A foolish person gives full vent to his/her anger, but a wise person keeps him/herself under control.” Why indulge your negativity and give power over yourself to what others say or do? Does it really matter? Don’t choose to upset yourself and you’ll prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Proverbs 10:12 teaches, “Hatred stirs up strife but love covers all sins. Hate is a destroyer.” We know the person who hates is more victimized by that emotion than the person hated. You can completely disarm another with a smile and an openness to create a connection instead of a battle. What do you really lose by celebrating the success of others? Keep in mind that if someone took your cab, it wasn't your cab. Same with success.
Proverbs 26:21 teaches, “As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” As I often say, The link is what you think, so switch on your positive thinking and be curious, “What can I learn from this situation, person, disagreement?,” instead of “How can I win?”
You won’t have a positive life, no matter what, without positive thinking in your mind. Your thoughts, not other people’s words or actions, determine the life you’ll live.
You can add to the fire by reposting, regurgitating and re-tweeting the negative vitriolic trash the media hopes you buy into – and I do mean “buy.” Why hurt your physical and emotional wellbeing with more anger and incivility, and put money into the pockets of the media by doing their work for them?
It’s time to bring civility back. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. wasn’t just a '60s song. It’s a call to action. Before all of those flights leave with celebrities teaching our children just what…not to do.

Author's Bio: 

Michael R. Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. His career includes serving as the Chief Psychologist for Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and as the founding Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He also served on the faculty of UCSD’s School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry.
After retiring two years ago from practicing clinical psychology for 40 years, he has become a highly sought after transformational behavior and leadership coach and accomplishment mentor for senior executive business leaders, professional and elite amateur athletes and others seeking personal well-being, optimal health and professional empowerment. He has worked in the media for nearly 40 years, appearing on every major talk and news show, and has been interviewed in, and written for, every major health and fitness magazine/website.
Michael is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Science for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, and served as the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise.
Michael is an Organizational Advisor to Fitwall, Rock My Run, Outburst Mobile, and speaks regularly for Rancho La Puerta and the Asia Fitness Conference in Bangkok, in addition to numerous other fitness-health organizations throughout the nation. He has been a keynote speaker for the University of California’s system wide “FitCon” and for UCLA’s “Stress Less Week” as well as for the Transformational Leadership Council.
He is a best-selling author of three books including the 25th Anniversary updated edition of his 1988 original “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, P.S. It’s All Small Stuff,” and his 1996, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace.” He is listed in’s 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.” His fourth book, “It is ALL in Your Head” is his current project.