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What the nation desperately needs now is more focus on civility

Gary Chamber of Commerce leader Chuck Hughes merits kudos for his relentless commitment to the principles of the increasingly popular “World Civility Day.” Civility is more than an observation or rhetorical symbolism to a concept. The demand for civility is fundamental to where we are heading as a country.

Until the last decade or so, “character counts” was still the widely held mantra of public service, corporate responsibility, spiritual affirmation, celebrity accountability, and everyday people standards. Unacceptable behavior has so become the rule and not the exception, that what once was shocking, now barely raises a brow.

Outrageous Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene violates State of the Union attire protocol, donning a MAGA hat while she openly heckles the President. The U.S. Supreme Court conspicuously violates ethics while openly injecting conservative political ideology into rulings that impact lives.

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green accepts fine after fine, suspension after suspension, confident there will always be an opportunity to return to the court and his repulsive angry playing style. Brats and bullies flourish in the absence of consequences.

While too many are allowed to escape the consequences of their egregious misdeeds, others pay a high price.

It’s been over two years since Academy Awards Oscars viewers watched in shock as Will Smith slapped Chris Rock live on television. It’s a moment most fans won’t forget, and it looks like Hollywood and large corporations haven’t forgotten either. The immediate impact was felt on Smith’s career, but it also affected other parts of his life.

The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation is closing up shop, according to Variety magazine, after donations dramatically dropped after Smith’s major gaffe. The media outlet obtained the tax records from ProPublica and noted that the charity’s revenue dipped from a donation high of $2,138,660 in 2021 to a donation low of $365,870 in 2022.

That’s a whopping 83 percent decrease in one year. Corporations and Hollywood titans that generously donated in 2021, including American Airlines and high-powered talent agency CAA, declined to contribute after “the slap heard around the world.”

The Hall of Shame is replete with individuals who once were riding high but who eventually fell from grace to disgraceful lows. Rob Lowe. Sean “Puffy” Combs. R. Kelly. “Shug” Knight. Harvey Weinstein. Donald Trump. Russell Simmons. Bill Cosby. Jeffrey Epstein. Woody Allen. The list is endless. Character compromise has never been greater.

Maybe efforts like “World Civility Day” can help restore our sense of dignity. The worst choice we could ever make is to accept the repulsive and soulless conduct of influential people as the “new normal.” Let’s keep striving to reach higher ground.

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].

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