Anne Marino Einhorn has been a resident of Middletown for the last sixteen years. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Performing Arts at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and received her Masters Degree in social work from the University of Southern California. Anne has worked for Communities That Care for the last eight years. She has served as a community mobilizer, educator and facilitator of after school theatre programs.
Such simple words, such obvious words, such familiar words... . In 1992, Rodney King’s words became a heartfelt plea heard around the nation. This plea, these words represent the hostility, disrespect and intolerance that plagued our country then and continue to do so, even more profoundly now. Around the world, around our country, the relevance of these words, the need for this plea is stronger than it was when first spoken.
Why have we not progressed and become the country, the people who can all get along? Now this is where we get to the crux of the matter...the topic my family is sick of hearing about, the introduction of which makes them role their eyes and yet is the topic that remains near and dear to my heart: civility. And exactly what is that? The dictionary definition describes civility as the act of showing regard for others by being polite. The word itself comes from the Latin word civilis, meaning “relating to public life, befitting a citizen” . In other words, showing civility means being nice and polite to everyone even when you don’t like them or don’t agree with them. You are respectful of other human beings, you show kindness, courtesy, good will. Now I don’t know about anyone else but I know that I have seen a very real lack of civility in this country and in this town. And when we lose our ability to be civil, we lose our humanity. Disregarding civility gives us license to disregard people, to make them less, to dehumanize them. This makes me sad. All aspects of rudeness, impatience, intolerance, disrespect make me sad. Our ability to compromise, negotiate, discuss is eroded when we are no longer civil to those with whom we disagree. We see this happening in our country as both national political parties prefer name calling, filibustering, and mud slinging to respectful and energetic argument which could and should lead to some form of progress. At this point you can probably see where I’m going with this. As I perceive it, civility is in serious danger in our own town. There has been a lot of finger pointing and name calling of late and it has further divided us and kept us from moving forward. It is time for us to remember that respectful disagreement and honest discourse has always been a part of our history as a nation.
Surely, we all have friends and family whom we love unconditionally and with whom we disagree vehemently and yet most of us approach these disagreements with respect. Disagreements on issues, ideas, propositions, likes and dislikes are important and necessary as long as we do not take these disagreements personally but rather perceive them as opportunities for informed and spirited argument. After all, how boring would it be if we all thought the same, acted the same, wanted the same? Our world, our country, our lives are about diversity and the fascinating differences among us.
Our town is in a precarious position right now as the jostle for power begins. A dangerous time? Maybe. A scary time? Maybe. A time for opportunity? Absolutely! If we can acknowledge our disagreements without hostility, engage in informed discussion, and respect each other as we make decisions about our future, then we can become a unified, intelligent, open minded citizenry with the ability to achieve unity and progress once again.