The following is a letter to the editor that I hope will be published. I’ll let you know. I find that this needs to be applied not only in the community, but also in the church. What do you think?

 Dear Editor,

Civility relates to courteous behavior. It has to do with being polite. It involves manners, tact, and showing regard for others. I lament the loss of civility in our society and,  in particular, our Southern culture. Mississippi has long been known as “The Hospitality State”, indicating that we are a people who lean toward a graceful attitude in our relationships with others. I still see this spirit in many people with whom I am acquainted, so it is not totally absent. Yet the spirit of civility seems to be lost in so many ways.

Civility is conspicuous in its absence when I hear the way that people speak to one another, language filled with profanities – without regard to children within earshot. I have witnessed “parents” cursing their children in public with words that demean and destroy their confidence and sense of self. I notice a lack of civility on our roadways. People seem to have an intense need to careen down the road at dangerous speeds without regard to others on the road. I notice the loss of civility in the atrocious behavior elected officials who require police intervention in order to have a meeting. The shuffle of firings and accusations that have plagued local city leadership is an embarassment to the Coast. It certainly does not represent the motto of our state. In our community those who serve the public are at the mercy of poorly mannered people who take advantage and speak harshly to them. On the other hand, employees of many of our businesses sometimes act as if they are being bothered if asked to do their job. Sadly, a loss of civility is represented every time I open the newspaper to which I subscribe, The Mississippi Press. In a new column people are allowed to phone in with gripes and complaints. Worse, their comments are published anonymously. I regret that people are allowed to hide behind anonymity to express harsh statements (sometimes telling other people to “shut up”) and expressions of “outrage”. All of these same individuals have the power to write a letter to the Editor, which likely will be published, and they can state their feelings with precision and passion, along with their identity. As I see it, anonymous expressions of opinion are worthless, and certainly not news. I ask our Editor to reconsider this wasted space in our newspaper.

These are only a few examples of how the loss of civility has impacted our Coast community in a negative way. We must never forget that we have been the beneficiary of a vast amount of love from across our country. There are still volunteers in our community helping and serving. We have been given the best example of civility that I could cite. Can we live up to that which has been demostrated before our very eyes? I believe we can.

I know this letter will not correct all of our problems, but perhaps one or two readers will decide to show a greater spirit of kindness today than they did yesterday. Perhaps some parents might talk with their children about finding peaceful ways to communicate and associate with others. What ripples of good will might be started across our community if only ten or twenty people chose to intentionally speak a kind word to their neighbor today? Life is not easy, and frustrations do plague us at times. The path to a better community starts with each individual developing a spirit of grace and kindness toward others. Will this begin with you?

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