Civility and Civil Society

“Civility and civil society look like different things. One is a personal matter of manners, sensitivity, politeness, tact. The other is a social phenomenon: associations, congregations, communities of commitment. What connects them is concern for the welfare of others, a refusal to let everything be determined by politics or economics, an insistence that human beings owe one another a respect that is no coerced or paid for, but simply because they are human beings. Civility and civil society represent the power of the personal in a world of impersonal forces. They create friendships in societies where we are thrown together as strangers. They are oases of togetherness in the anonymity of urban life and the lonely crowd. They cut across conflict and competition. If we lose civility, and if civil society becomes politicized, the future of freedom is in danger.”

The Home We Build Together, p. 188