The decline of civility in our society is evidenced by the top news stories, mean tweets, road rage and more. But how are we personally doing as far as this is concerned? Are we contributing to the decline or are we working for improvement?

I feel that if asked most people would say that we are in a degeneration of civility today.  This includes everything from sports to politics, to the entertainment industry to social media and so on. People often look in amazement at what is going on not just with the increase in crime, but even in our own everyday lives. Yet when asked if they themselves were civil, I feel most people would tell you they were.  Maybe it is time to take a fresh look at civility and our contributions to and benefits of being civil… as you cannot have civilization without civility. So why is civilization in decline?

It starts with manners, which are the basis of civility. The importance of manners seems to have died. That is a problem because manners teach respect.  Respect first for yourself and then for others.  This deterioration is reflected in the little things we do.  What used to be common courtesies, today seem to be not-so-common-courtesies. Manners are really a matter of the heart. So how is that working? Are we just too busy to care? Do we just not understand the value of teaching manners to our children? Is living by example something we do? Have we allowed ourselves or our children to be distracted by the cellular device and watching others live their lives rather than living our own?

Every day we teach people about us, whether we realize it or not, and they are all watching… watching you at work, at home, in the community, with your spouse or with your children. They are watching because they are all hoping somebody gets it right. So let us have a new awareness about ourselves that we are teaching others. Is what they are learning from us giving them hope and improving civility?

Could we live our lives in such a way that we are not just alive but truly living? My answer is yes, and my hope is that we again take a fresh look and be the example of respect for people that gives hope to them. Maybe by watching me walk through this life with graciousness and civility in my words and actions that if I can do it, they can too.