What would I do to introduce the basics and fine – tuning of civility to our society? Might it be to introduce that little bit of behavioral science known as “Southern Hospitality” to members of the United States Congress?
English: George Washington accepting command of the Continental Army. George Washington (middle) surrounded by members of the Continental Congress, lithograph by Currier & Ives, c. 1876. Currier & Ives Collection, Library of Congress, Neg. No. LC-USZC2-3154 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After all, our Congress members should be the great upholders of all that is good in this country. These are our elected leaders, our lawmakers, those who should be our examples. We elected them, put our trust in them, set them in Washington to be examples to others as our top-of-the-line officials. They should be proud to be the highest examples of the best of proper and exemplary behavior.
In articles aired on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago, Congressman Illinois Republican Don Manzullo remarked on the lack of civility in Congress and that he would not miss the present atmosphere hanging heavy over those hallowed halls and choking off communication in the chambers. Now it is true that our officials travel more during their terms, going home and such, but that is no excuse for not being civil with one’s colleagues.
There are behavioral basics anyone should have learned when very young, such as how to speak politely, telephone manners, no pushing and shoving, no shouting and the like. Parliamentary procedure is the logical growth of the building blocks, and every official should know parliamentary procedure and how to conduct themselves with dignity, diplomacy, grace, courtesy, and everything that is good about what makes society disciplined and special in this country.
There are many books and guides out on good behavior and deportment, and I think every member of Congress should have them and read a section of them every day, and practice those rules as well. Guides on civility go back centuries, to George Washington and past, to other nations and eras. The art of civilized conversation and meetings did not end when President Washington finished writing his treatise.
In fact our members of Congress should be pleased, indeed honored, to uphold those principles of civility presented to our nation by our founders. These present members should deem it the laurel wreath of honor to set the finest examples of decorum here and anywhere they are. Surely there are coaches at the United Nations who can educate our elected officials.
I would offer this also, that members of the military could teach our officials those fine rules of military courtesy. After all, our President is Commander-in-Chief, so maybe we can look at Congress as the elite troops leading the way for our nation, setting the good example, being the torchbearers, offering the olive branches, and getting to attention on the issues and not on splitting for home the first chance they get without saying some kind word to a colleague.
It is not but a few minutes’ worth of someone’s time to say a good word, to offer to write, to send an e-mail thanking a colleague for good work, a fine piece of advice, or working on an important bill that is good for the nation. It is a few seconds of time to shake someone’s hand, to offer a smile and a thank you, or a have a safe flight, or look me up when you return and we’ll have lunch or dinner.
Now come on, members of Congress, take a closer look at more than your literal role as elected officials, as lawmakers and as powerful people. You represent our nation in so many ways, you can give benefit through more than just being officials of a state or a certain constituency. You are those people we deem our best and brightest – that is why you are in Congress, that is why you uphold traditions that have been polished and come to you through the centuries.
We need you to show that good side right now, at all time, every day. Please. Thank you very much.
My thanks to Chicago’sown News Radio WBBM’s Julie Mann for clarification of the information regarding the retiring Congressman.
079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: davehighbury)
Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012