A call for civility

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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There’s a scene in the now-defunct Fox cartoon “King of The Hill” where Hank Hill offers to buy his dad, Cotton, a Christmas ornament. “Peace?,” the old man harrumphs, incredulously. ” You would like that, you draft-dodger! Sure you can’t find one with a flag-burning on it?”

Hank is taken aback. But he explains: “It’s Jesus peace, not hippie peace.”

That’s how I feel writing a call for civility. When I say civility, I know you hear servility. (But I’m talking about Jesus civility, not hippie civility!)

Over at Commentary, Peter Wehner does a good job of of cataloging some of the reasons this is needed.

Conservatives, of course, will point to liberal examples of hatred and bitterness and say, “they do it, too!” Both sides do this. Both sides should be more civil. Both sides should show more character.

But since I suspect I’m reaching more conservatives here, let me make the case that you should not allow yourself to become obsessed with the political fight. In this, I agree with Peggy Noonan, who writes, “[I]n their fight against liberalism and its demands, too many conservatives have unconsciously come to ape the left. They too became all politics all the time.”

At the end of the day — at the end of our lives — shouldn’t our life’s work — our purpose — have been noble? (Yes, political participation is honorable. Fighting for freedom is certainly honorable. But it is noble only if done in an honorable manner.)

This, of course, is a lesson that even the most introspective person must learn and re-learn. But it’s anything but new. “Consider your origins,” Dante wrote, “you were not made that you might live as brutes, but so as to follow virtue and knowledge.”

Or, as Robert F. Kennedy said the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, “let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”


Matt K. Lewis