When my book on the subject, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, appeared in 1992, I was interviewed frequently by journalists on the subject of civility. At first I was surprised by how often they wanted to talk, not about the “big” incivilities of tribal and international hostilities, but about more mundane displays of anger: road rage on California freeways and rudeness in the aisles of supermarkets. But they were onto something. These less global manifestations of incivility have increasingly become preoccupations for all of us. Kids in middle-class schools are driven to the point of suicide because of bullying by their peers. Campus gossip sites spread salacious stories about students who are identified by name. Bloggers sit daily at their keyboards to spew forth hatred. “Experts” shout at each other on our 24/7 cable news channels.
Richard Mouw’s article describes, very well, what is arguably problem #1 in America: negative communication. Without positive communication, no problem can be effectively discussed or addressed. An excerpt: