Wow. I saw that headline — Obama: Kanye Is A “Jackass” — early this morning on The Huffington Post, even before my five-mile run at 5 a.m. Looks like my call for a return to civility in this country isn’t gaining traction as quickly as I had planned. I’ll have to give some more thought to my “civility strategy” on subsequent runs.
But this morning, all I could do was chuckle and let the endorphins kick in.
What is it we say in public relations? Building relationships, two-way communication, and so on. I digress.
OK. I don’t put Obama’s comment into the same rudeness bucket as those of Joe Wilson and Serena Williams. Hey, I’m delighted that the Prez still has some passion and fight left in him. He’ll need it in a few years when he gets old and has to go before one of the health-care death panels. Just kiddin’.
But here’s the point. We need responsible leadership — in government, business, education and so on — and that requires the ability to work together, understand and reconcile differing viewpoints, and do what’s best for the common good. In part, that involves civility — and the further we move from that, the worse things become.
Have we reached the point where civility is no longer worth talking about? Hope not.
I’m also getting weary of the public relations strategy that no matter how bad the deed or indiscretion, everything is OK as long as you give an immediate and sincere apology. That’s flawed — and it encourages bad behavior. Better for the PR gurus to counsel good actions on the part of clients and employers before the need to apologize. Why not try that?
Oh, and by the way, I’m not a lone jackass in the wilderness talking about civility. USA Today had as its lead article this morning a story titled “What happened to civility?” From the article:
When South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Obama’s address to Congress by shouting “You lie!” last week, at least one man was elated.
“I thought, ‘Great, now the notion of civility may be back on the national agenda,’ ” says P.M. Forni, who heads The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, an effort that promotes etiquette.
After last weekend, Forni might want to hire extra staff. It looks like incivility is storming the gates.
Oh, mama. “Incivility is storming the gates.”
Looks like The Civility Initiative — and pajama-clad citizen journalists like me — have some work to do.