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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb 20, 2012/ 27 Shevat, 5772

Can 'manners for democracy' be saved?

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Can civility be saved?

This has become the question du jour among scholars, journalists and others who fret about such things at dozens of programs popping up around the country. As a nation, we seem to want to be a more civil society, which is laudable if, quite possibly, unlikely.

Inevitably, discussions about the current state of civility begin with disclaimers and acknowledgement that Americans have always been a bunch of rowdies and rascals. Previous eras have made current incivility look like a (real) tea party that erupts into a food fight of crumpets and scones.

A perennial favorite was the caning administered by South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks upon the person of Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner over a disagreement about slavery and a question of honor. And, of course, there was that little episode known as the Civil War.

Are we less civil today than in the past? Not really, though thanks to the pervasiveness of media, it seems that way. And, thanks to the general coarsening of the culture amid the breakdown of traditional institutions, not to mention families, rules of decorum have suffered.

Even the imperative to improve the tone of our interactions is a constant through history. Sometime around age 16, George Washington transcribed a slim volume called “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,” which covered everything from when and how to spit to how to speak in public. The 58th rule reads:

“Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for ’tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.”

Ahem, yes, well, tell that to a certain member of Congress from South Carolina. We should all write Joe “You lie!” Wilson a thank-you note for creating a contemporary standard by which to judge public expressions of incivility. We might also stamp a letter to the congresswoman from California, Maxine Waters, who recently described House Republican leaders as “demons.”

Like so many things, civility is in the perception of the beholder, but we at least can agree on a definition. Civility is courtesy in behavior and speech, otherwise known as manners. In the context of the public square, civility is manners for democracy.

Unquestionably, our manners have deteriorated since Washington’s time, increasingly so in recent years. Manners have become quaint, while behaviors once associated with rougher segments of society have become mainstream.

During my own childhood, even private cursing was rare, and the third finger was something only the crudest people used to express themselves. No one I knew ever dropped the F-bomb. The worst children heard was an occasional “hell” or “damn,” usually following an incident involving a badly aimed hammer.

Given that manners have faded in our interpersonal relations, it shouldn’t be surprising that bad habits would bleed into the public square. Add to the equation our social media, Internet access and other avenues of instant and, importantly, anonymous, communication, and the bad habits of the few become the social pathology of the many. As we further balkanize ourselves, finding comfort in virtual salons of ideological conformity, it becomes easier to dehumanize “the other” and treat them accordingly.

Whom to blame and how to fix it? It is tempting to blame “the media,” especially television, for the degradation of civility. Obviously the food-fight formula that attracts viewers to cable TV isn’t helpful, but we may protest too much. We can always change the channel, but people arguing passionately are more entertaining than solemn folks speaking in measured tones about Very Important Issues. Conflict and spectacle sell (see WWE and its distant ancestor, the Colosseum). The attraction is tied to our sporting spirit and the lure of the contest.

The clearest solution would be unacceptable to most of us. That is, the tamping down of speech. Better that incivility be revealed in the light of day than that it be forced underground, there to fester and the underlying sentiments to grow. Change — if we really want it — has to come from within, each according to his own conscience.

The most that media can do, meanwhile, is strive to be honest, accurate and fair, and reward the coarsest among us with scant attention. The greatest threat to civility isn’t the random “You lie!” outburst. More threatening to our firmament is the pandering to ignorance, the elevation of nonsense and the distribution of false information.

In the main, the Golden Rule works pretty well. Best taught in the home, it could use some burnishing.

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