By Vernon A. Williams
Americans need not fear the often-echoed threat of another civil war. That is a red herring purposely designed to distract thinking people from the real issue. The substantially greater danger is the war on civility and the nation is already in the throes of that battle.
There is no longer blue and red, north and south, union and confederacy, or any clearly drawn lines of demarcation to define allegiances. These are times that require ideological differences to be set aside for the common good of the people.
Those waging this battle seek to not simply blur but obliterate the lines between acceptable and repugnant citizenship. They attempt to confuse shallow-minded individuals with the guise of flag-waving to camouflage assaults on democracy.
We live in a time during which a growing number of people minimize or fail to seek true knowledge as resources of reliable truth dwindle. To describe that as an apocalyptic equation, if allowed to proceed unchecked, would be no exaggeration.
Politicians make ridiculous utterances on a daily basis to masses of people too nonchalant, gullible, or lazy to challenge. So the rhetoric becomes the reality and there is no longer distinction between image and substance. Accountability dissipates when “leaders” shun responsibility, instead assuming the role of demagogues.
Civility requires fair and just laws to govern man, not for men and women to ruthlessly apply self-serving standards of operation. Civility establishes the duties of public servants, not that the public suddenly be submitted to serve at the whim of any individual.
The bad news is, we have reached the crisis stage and already lost a measure of our civility. The good news, societal trends tend to be cyclical and evolving, meaning we are capable of retrieving a modicum of our “normal” way of life if we fight back.
This is no metaphor. We will, indeed, be required to fight to maintain the civility required for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness guaranteed in our constitution. There are tangible actions that must be taken for us to regain losses and broaden pathways to possibilities.
The battle will necessitate formation of unlikely alliances that cross lines of race, age, geographical origins, educational levels, political persuasion, religion, sexual preference, and nationality.
Entering this movement to reclaim civility in the U.S., it will be important to know messages worthy of keeping and those purposed to mislead the masses. Like a broken clock is right twice a day, every blue moon 45 makes a point that surpasses stupidity.
The news media is not reliable. Young, poorly prepared journalists focus more on career ambition than journalistic ethics. Not only are stories conveyed full of holes but too often reports bear the slant of reporters who can’t even define objectivity.
Many of them follow the lead of the news organization that they serve, which often have their own agenda. While news in general can only be taken with a grain of salt, even less reliable is information having to do with Black or Brown Americans.
So we will need to embrace the Black press and internal sources of reliable information in this ongoing struggle. It won’t be easy, but it has got to happen. As we enter Black History Month next week, there will be a second of two parts to this column that speaks specifically to our charge in this war on civility. Stay tuned.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected]