Civility in the time of COVID-19 (And After)

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Maybe it’s just me, but it’s beginning to seem like The Virus is actually beginning to reach into the world of Twitter, and with a positive effect.   The invective meter seems to have dipped, if only a little.

One suspects that the reprieve is only temporary, however.  Depending how the infection trends go, more and more Americans are likely to push back on an enforced cessation to economic activity.  People need to work; they need to earn money.  Even debt-funded handouts from the federal government can’t stop that need, especially if the initial hysteria begins to pass without having proven justified.  As that begins, people fired up for normalcy will clash with those still smoldering with concern about COVID-19.

This ebb and flow brings to mind Judith Bowman’s “Call for Civility” on the blog of the newly formed Rhode Island Women for Freedom & Prosperity:

Amidst our nasty divisive political climate, record immigration influx, an unprecedented global economy and dazzling high-tech toys designed to connect us, we have never been more divided, disorderly, disrespectful or disconnected.

Reality check. It’s time: to acknowledge what is happening to us as a country and as individuals, in our own families and at our dinner tables, in our workplaces and neighborhoods, sports arenas and playgrounds and know that we need to make conscious adjustments in attitude, conduct and behavior.   The way we treat and respond to each other needs to be brought back to the conversation. …

Thoughtfulness is contagious, always appreciated and does come back to you. Being thoughtful and actionable is a necessity today. We have a responsibility to step up, be a ‘warrior’ to help restore and re-engage the rules of social conduct by extending purposeful acts of kindness. Try it and watch the results in terms of quality work performance, team camaraderie and personal connections. Extend yourself in selfless ways and bask in the positive, contagious results.

Imagine if we all step out from under the shadow of the contagious illness now permeating the world — whether that takes weeks or months — intent on spreading a contagious thoughtfulness.  Not everybody will manage it; too many are invested in division and want the influence that they expect it to bring to them.  Too many profit from envy, wallow in pride, and fester with wrath.

But what if some large majority of us strive to take this global pause as an opportunity to adjust our attitudes?  If we do that, maybe we can move forward understanding that the hostility is a contagion, too, and calls for us to maintain some social distancing from it.