My second cornerstone, kindness, will take a similar tumble when faced with unkindness. Let’s for a minute take a realistic picture of the unkindness that children will see and face. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness. Children living in such a home will see and experience some of the following on a continual and reoccurring basis: one parent routinely putting the other parent down, name calling, belittling, bad mouthing, mocking, threatening; one parent slapping, pushing, hitting, strangling, aiming a gun at the other; in the night hearing yelling, screaming, crashing, and fear; a parent who is constantly on guard that tension seems the only emotion in the one, is always not only trying to be sure that everything is perfect in the house but constantly demanding that the children be good, not say or do anything that will upset the other, yell at the child if something is not right, saying do not bother me, I cannot help you, sometimes slapping; and some experience the same abuse from that parent.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Some children are physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused by a parent or other relative. Many children live in poverty. Consequently they often are poorly dressed, do not have the school supplies that are necessary, miss school, and are unable to attend the school events that cost extra. These children can be brutally treated unkindly. These are laughed at, teased, and sometimes constantly harassed by other students. Other students see this behavior and nothing is done to stop it even though no adult is there to observe. Another unkind behavior is bullying. In the 2014 Door County Youth at Risk Survey students self-reported that they were bullied on school property during the 12 months before the study and had been electronically bullied.
Finally, let’s just consider what a child sees about his world. We hear over and over again about a mass shooting a school, a college, a church or a theater. Both drama and comedy are showing acts of unkindness more frequently than kindness. Commercials sell products by the use of unkindness. Athletes are praised for trash talking. There are often physical altercations on the field. A coach yells in the face of a player. Our country’s leaders verbally attacking each other. War, war everywhere.
Clearly those children who are experiencing unkindness most of the time, know little of what kindness is nor how to be kind. Others have seen and received kindness, but with unkindness being the normal, you would suspect that they would see the way to act is with unkindness. Of course we have children who see kindness and do practice it. I am not sure that the group alone is strong enough to keep that cornerstone standing.
Last fall Terry Lundahl with an idea she called LEAP (Learning to Empower and Appreciate All People) decided to take action. She with Dorothy Scott got the support of each of the mainland schools. First through the schools they were able to attract students who were interested in the movement of human kindness and of being creative in sending that message. It was a mix group of about 40 young people all who were talented and wanted to express themselves. Second this group was to put together a presentation that could us dancing acting, singing, playing an instrument, or speaking to address human kindness. Additional facilitators were added: Cheryl Pfister, Claire Morkin, Amanda List, Andria Nikouplolis-Weliky, and Nikki Hedeen. Starting in January the group met each Sunday for a few hours to from scratch put a show together. Imagine all the creativity and then the energy to put their ideas into some active art form. Further the increased understanding everyone gained about kindness and its importance in our interaction. With hard work the result was a show at Southern Door Auditorium on April 17. It was very well received. Through a variety of artistic media the attendees were able to grasp what they had learned and wanted to share with all of Door County.
The LEAP project is on schedule for 2016 and their performance is scheduled for April 15 and 16 evening at the Southern[MG1] Door Auditorium. Please save the date. Students will be able to get involved in early 2016 with the same process. This is sponsored by Ministry Door County Medical Center. With young people wanting to spread the word, we have a much better chance for civility.
Orlaine I. Gabert
If we review the first seven tools, we have focused on having an agreeable conversation with another person. By paying attention, listening, being inclusive, being agreeable, showing respect we are working hard to hear the other person and considering thoughtfully what is said. Further we do not gossip about something negative or private about them and we make amends by apologizing when we have in some way misacted. Yet we know that no matter how well we practice using these tools, we are going to have conversations where we disagree, where we are not pleased with an action by another person, where we are concerned about another person’s welfare, where we are see one is not performing as necessary, and where we are not able to respond as the person would want.
Civility does not mean that we are to then avoid these conversations and stick to the pleasant. It is crucial that we be true to ourselves. While following the first seven tools we are allowing ourselves to fully expand to see the largest picture that we can. Still that includes our experiences, our views, our values, our culture, and our knowledge. Therefore it is just as important that we allow ourselves to be heard by another who also has the same tools as ourselves. We owe to them and ourselves to be honest and express an opposing point of view. Our intention would be the same as theirs in expressing a view is to help.
With all these things in mind we truly need to look at “give constructive criticism” from both points of view- we will be giving feedback to another person in some of our conversations, but will also be the recipient of the same from others. For us to continue communicating in a civil manner, we need to be able listen civilly to what the person is trying to tell us about ourselves.
The critical ingredient is intend. We have to answer the Question why do I want to have this conversation or why does this person want to have this conversation with me. The only acceptable answer is that you want to be of help to the other person. This may mean that you believe that you want to expand the person’s view of an issue by sharing the opposing side, you are seeing that the person is having a problem and you want to provide feedback, suggestions, or be solution oriented, or you have an opportunity to be a change agent. Often times these situations arouse your emotions such as anger, hurt, disappointment, frustration, irritation, etc. It is crucial that you work through your emotions. First you have to be sure that your real intent is to help not hurt in some way because of your emotions. Secondly when you have this conversation not only your words must say that you care and when to help, but also your body language. If your words and body do not match, you will not be heard, the person will key in on the body and become defensive. If you are clear that you want to help and can be calm and caring, you are ready to have this conversation.
You need to choose a good time and place. This is to be a private conversation, no one else needs to hear it, and you want enough time to say what you want and allow the person to respond. It is best to approach this conversation in a positive manner. You want to acknowledge positives to begin with. Next you will then bring up the specific problem or concern in an objective manner. While there sometimes may be a number of these, address one specific issue in this one conversation. Remember: how you handle this conversation can lead to further good conversations in the future. You will offer some specific solutions. Here there may be some discussion. Finally end the conversation on a positive note.
When you are a receiver, you need to first hear, doing that by using those civility tools. Note that the body language says that this person cares about me and what they say may be credible. You may need to clarify. It is best not to counter, but to be sure that you understand what is being said. Finally give yourself a break. You are human and not perfect. There are always ways to improve and grow. This person wants to help me do just that.
These conversations will be a struggle at first, but the more you do, the sooner we will be a civil society.
Orlaine I. Gabert
It is less than a month to the election. You have had time to do research and are near making your choices. I suggest one last consideration- to rate the civility of all the candidates that you are considering. In reality you are choosing a person to do the job of making decisions with others regarding some aspect of our government. In the United States we have basically a two party system and a three branch form of government. This means that in each branch we have at least two points of view of how are government needs to operate. Civility, “the action of working together productively to reach a common goal and often with beneficent purposes, polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior” is needed to have a successful result. Consequently, we the electorate need to choose individuals who will address a problem in a civil manner.
On a recent news program focused on the current presidential election along with the word civility, two other words caught my attention-polarization and reconciliation. By definition polarization “in the social sciences (politics) is the process by which the public opinion divides and goes to extremes. This word was used to describe how our country is currently functioning. For at least two presidential elections or more the news consensus has been that the American populace is not happy with their elected officials do to their inaction. All we see is right/wrong, win/lose, haves/have nots. So those “in” try to get theirs beliefs through and then the “new” try to get it repealed. Polarization is paralyzing our country.
The definition of the second work, reconciliation is “re-establishing normal relations between belligerents, the restoration of friendly relationships”. In each branch of government individuals have been elected, chosen, or hired to do a job in part because of their views and beliefs. They need to remember that they also represent those that have other views. But finally they are to do their job of running the government and finding the solutions that will move our country forward. They are in a workplace and need to be working together. We know that in businesses where animosity reigns, these will fail.
Civility is the way to begin our reconciliation. Therefor we need to evaluate each candidate’s ability to use the tools. Pay Attention- When someone of a different view is speaking, do they demonstrate that they are willing to direct their ears and eyes to that individual and not interrupt until the person is done. Listen- When the person has finished what they have to say, they fully understand the other point of view. Be Inclusive means that you allow yourself to truly accept that there are other points of view and those are of value. With Not Gossip and Show Respect one does not say negative things about others and treats each individual with dignity and is valued at all times. Now you are able to Be Agreeable and find common ground. Sometimes we may not use these tools and we can Apologize. They need to express their view with Constructive Criticism. Take Responsibility is working diligently with each other for solutions.
While it may be difficult to identify civil behavior in our current political climate with negative ads and attacking debates, it is imperative that each of us are diligent in looking for civility traits. Those individuals will be the ones to work with different opinions to make policies for the benefit of every citizen.
Please then vote on November 8th and THANK YOU for meeting your civil responsibility.
Orlaine I. Gabert
The first three tools of the Door County Civility Project which were pay attention, listen, and be inclusive asked that you take positive verbal steps in your communications. The fourth tool asks that you not do something-Don’t Gossip. The definition of gossip and opinions of gossip are quite confusing. Here are a few: idle talk, small talk, chatty talk, hearsay, all of which amount to much of our daily talk with family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. As such the opinion is that it is a light hearted way of spreading information and helps to build social networks. Another definition includes rumor especially about personal or private affairs of others, sometimes to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation. Additional related words are betrayer, blabbermouth, newsmonger, tale-teller, informant, snitch, tattle-tale. Here gossip is seen as trivial, hurtful and socially and/or intellectually unproductive.
Let’s first consider how this confusion has affected our attitudes towards gossip. Being naturally curious, we want to learn personal things about others, primarily from a caring point of view. Our interest can be seen on a spectrum: some mildly interested and will listen when someone presents us with some gossip, some increasingly interested and more in search of gossip, and those who are driven to any type of gossip. Most of us do not want to see ourselves as the gossiper as that person seems to have a more negative connotation. Yet gossip has an enticing element.
Gossip is not a new phenomenon. It has always been a part on human communication. Newspapers had “gossip columns” which provided details of the social and personal lives of celebrities and the elite. Magazines like the National Enquirer are for sale as we wait in line at the grocery store, telling tale after tale of persons of interest. With radio and TV we can hear gossip from trivial to serious. Two, I remember from my teens. Paul is dead, Paul is dead referring to the Beatle, Paul McCartney. Sir Paul is alive and well. The second one was that JFK was still alive and on some island. With the Warren Report not to be opened for a long time, no one knew what was true. Today with the internet, gossip is widespread at an instant basis. Yet when we learn of the harm of gossip to an innocent person, many will condemn gossip.
Perhaps we need to consider the intent of the gossip. It is one thing to provide information, and quite another to want to hurt or harm someone. Let’s look at three situations where gossip is used to harm someone. First is the bullying that exists in our schools. One of the aspects of bullying is describing someone in negative terms. This can be done with whispers, notes to other students, things written on bathroom walls, and now statements on the internet.
Second, there is a lot written about gossip that occurs at the workplace. Here is a list of the negative consequences.
1. Lost productivity and worked time.
2. Erosion of trust and morale.
3. Increased anxiety among employees as rumors circulate without clear information as to what is fact and what is not.
4. Growing divisiveness among employees as people take sides.
5. Hurt feelings and reputations.
6. Jeopardize chances for the gossipers advancement as they are perceived as unprofessional.
7. Attrition as good employees leave due to the unhealthy work environment.
Thirdly we see gossip used in our political world. Voters are unable to evaluate the candidates because they are unable to determine what is fact and what is fallacy. There is no discussion of the issues and concerns of our county. Millions of dollars are spent on lies. And finally our country is not solving problems and making decisions.
I liked best what was said on Kids Health about gossip. They tried to separate talk and gossip. Talk is how we spread thought, ideas, and experience. This kind of communication is acceptable and positive. Gossip is saying something that is mean, telling something that you are not sure is true or sharing information that is to remain private. This is the kind of communication that we need to stop.
Let’s all stop the gossip.
Orlaine I. Gabert
While last month I identified a variety of civil behavior, I want to focus on only one, COURTESY, which I believe is truly a cornerstone of civility. Some of the definitions of courtesy are as follows: excellent of manners or social conduct, polite behavior; respectful or considerate act or expression; favor, help, or generous; polite behavior that shows respect for others, and civility. If each of us in every action and communication does not act in the manner of courtesy, we will be uncivil and more often than not be treated in that same manner. Courtesy, courtesy, courtesy.
Before I give examples in our daily life of courtesy to others, I want to share a few quotes I found on the subject that I thought help to expand ones thinking on the action.
“Courtesy costs nothing, but buys everything.” Hazrat Ali Ibn-Talib A.S.
“Politeness is the art of choosing among our thoughts.” Anne-Louise-Germaine de Stael.
“Courteousness is consideration for others, politeness is the method used to deliver such consideration for others.” Bryant McGill
“Ah, hon, it’s the little courtesies that make life bearable, I feel, wouldn’t you agree?” Andrew Ashling, Bonds of Hate.
“With your lunch box, do not forget to carry courtesy, respect, and gratitude from home.” Rupali Desai
“Gratitude comes in a spectrum of colors, but ingratitude is always black.” Anakala V Subbarao.
“All doors open to courtesy.” Thomas Fuller
“What if today you gave yourself permission of be outrageously kind? What if you extended as much goodwill and kindness as you can possibly muster to everyone you meet? What if you did it with no thought of reward? I’m sure of one thing: it will be a day you will never forget. Steve Goodier.
Here are some examples of the common courtesy that we need to practice in our multiple interactions with people each day. As we are courtesy, so will most others. Even if someone is not, we need to continue to be courteous.
Use of roads. While we may be able to walk or bike two by two; when we see a car or walker/biker coming our way, we need to return to single file. Cars if able can move slightly over the center line to give some space and slow down. Two cars come up to a four stop intersection at the same time, following the recommendation of letting the car on the right proceed first. Make sure that you keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you.
Coming into contact with a person, we can extend a friendly greeting, we may want to extend a hand, or give a hug.
Playing a game of bridge or other card game, waiting until everyone has had a chance to sort their cards before taking any action. Allow your opponent adequate time to make a play. Provide encouragement and praise only unless asked to provide criticism.
Cell phones do provide us with immediate connections to others; they can interfere with the face to face communications that you are having. Situations where cell phones need to be turned off are business hours and educational classes, organizational meetings, entertainment performances, bridge games, appointment waiting rooms, driving, special events with friends, and any time that someone needs your undivided attention or you do to concentrate.
When you have used the last of anything, you need to replace or tell the person who is responsible. One example is if you use the last toilet tissue, but a new roll on the holder
There are times you need to follow certain rules of procedure like a curtsy to the Queen.
Often two people arrive at the door at near the same time, if first open the door and let the person behind you proceed. If you use public transportation, you may give up your seat to assist someone who better needs the seat.
We do get upset and angry, step away and cool off before you decide if and what you want to say. Often it can help to give someone the benefit of a doubt. There may be a very different reason that they are acting in an uncivil manner.
Quietly wait your turn. Everyone that is in that line also has other places and tasks to be done.
When someone speaks to you, make an appropriate response immediately.
It helpful to try to keep a positive attitude as it is much easier to remain courteous.
May you all have a glorious day!
Orlaine I. Gabert
In order to become a civil individual and help to move the community in that direction, we need to not only practice civil communication, we need to become civil in our behavior and action. Truly civility needs to be a mindset. At all times we want to be civil. First we need to recognize what are some of the ways to act and behave civil. Here are some of my suggestions which are in no particular order. I encourage you to add to this list for yourself.
Utilize the manners that you have been taught. With a “Please” you make the other person feel respected, that they do have a choice, and are more open to consider your request. A “Thank You” tells the person that you appreciate whatever they did and encourage more helpful behavior in the future.
Give sincere compliments freely. Around us all the time someone is doing something well. A compliment not only feels good, but encourages them to do their best as much as possible. At the bridge table, tell your partner as well as your opponent that they played the hand well. At the same time it is just as important that you accept a compliment that is given to you. That person has given to you their opinion. By accepting their compliment, you are modeling receiving compliments graciously, but continuing the goodwill that was intended by the compliment. Both of you will feel good, and complimenting others will expand.
Smile as you meet people in your daily life. A smile can brighten up the person’s day. They are more likely to smile at someone that they meet. Say hello to the clerk that is waiting on you. This acknowledges that he/she is a person, a human being just like yourself. Then wish a good day. Your consideration will be passed on.
Give of yourself to others. Each of us has need for help many times in our lives. When you see someone who looks lost or confused ask if you can help. When a family has a tragedy, reach out with assistance. Older adults are often reluctant to ask, but may accept an offer of help. A card or a telephone call can be priceless to someone who is incapacitated. Door County has multiple charities; and whatever you give will make a difference. Volunteering is an excellent way to give. Someone or some nonprofit is helped. You gain exponentially. You feel good, you find you want to give again, and you gain knowledge and understanding. When you need help, please ask. So often people want to help, but they do not know what you need. Also accept the help when someone offers. Giving is free. They are not asking for something in return. They simply want to help. By your acceptance, they are more likely to continue to give if the future.
Try a new activity. Of course we all have our interests and participate in those activities. Often someone may suggest that we join them in something that we have not done and do not believe that we want to. Still, think about the gains. The experience has given us knowledge and appreciation for the activity. Also we will learn more about our friend and our friend’s reasons for the interest. We may even find a new interest.
Remember that facts are facts and opinions are opinions. 2+2 is 4 is a fact. Door County is the best place to live is an opinion. It is imperative that we separate the two. Only facts can be proven. When several are gathered, there are many more opinions than the number of people. Each of us is entitled to our opinion. There are appropriate ways to express our opinions, it is acceptable to try to influence someone to come to believe your opinion, and they have the right to not want to change. And remember, “your rights stop at the end of my nose.”
Give hugs! Although when we meet a stranger or someone we do not know well, we extend our hand. This is a good start. We are reaching out and touching each other. BUT there is nothing better than a hug. Each wrapping their arms around the other and embracing, each feeling comforted and warm. Hugs start us out caring about each other. Hopefully we can keep that feeling alive as we deal with the issues of life.
Orlaine I. Gabert
I recently spent two weeks getting away from the cold and enjoying the sun in Puerto Vallarta at a timeshare resort. Between the time we spent at the resort, on various tours, and in the city, we were always treated with the highest level of friendliness, helpfulness, and what I came to realize was civility. Their attitude made a huge difference in the enjoyment of our stay.
It was after several tours that I truly noticed what each tour guide was saying to us and its impact on the entire tour and each individual in attendance. With each we had some travel time before we reached our destination. We were provided all the information that we would need when we got there. Additionally we were given further information about the area, the culture, and the country. Each told us that the area’s prosperity was based 90% on tourism. Everyone who lived there recognized this fact. Once we arrived after reminders for a pleasurable stay was a statement to us all to treat each other well and respectfully. Our last guide stated it this way “My mother always said to me, we share the same planet, we breathe the same air.”
All the staff followed this civil behavior. There were sufficient staff to meet our needs. If they see one of us needing help, they were immediately there. I was having trouble putting of my flippers. A staff was there and quickly helped. My friends and I went to a sight to go on a hike and somehow missed him. We asked another who had just finished with a scuba diving group, he took us on the full hike with enthusiasm. The guides worked together so each group had the experience by themselves. When time allowed, they provided us with some extras.
But by their actions, I saw the power of civility. Their words impacted our behavior. Participants were happier and friendlier with each other. They were respectful of other’s space and time. They would come forward and be helpful to another. When one is treated in a civil manner, one tends to act accordingly. Differences were much easier dealt with. On our off road tour there were 13 participants and our guide. Nine of us were from the US, 2 from England and 2 from Germany, and we traveled on benches on the back of a truck facing each other. He helped us to get to know each other, and we all found some commonalities. Later in the day, he asked the German couple about their World War II experience. They were very candid. He then ended the discussion by thanking them for sharing and that he just wanted to understand. He used the tool of listening and being inclusive.
At the resort whenever you came to an entry way, a staff member was there in part for security reasons. That staff member greeted each person with a hello and the put is his/her hand on their heart. I learned that meant that it was heart felt. Again I saw the power of this simple greeting, of civility. First it was returned, but each of us would expand that greeting to all our meetings with other guests and staff. We would start conversations with others, share information, honor the space that others had already claimed, and respect the resort grounds
I further understanding of these aspects of civility was from a book that I was reading while there entitled “The End of Your Life Book Club”. The mother who was dying and had a strong faith shared many of views of how she lived. One action was to always try to greet whoever she met with a smile, friendliness and respect. While she had no idea how that person was feeling that day, she believed that providing a kind and friendly greeting can impact how that person could know feel. Now that person could continue the day in a more positive and similar manner. That was certainly being demonstrated to me as I enjoyed my vacation. The people of Puerto Vallarta were genuine in there civil manner to their guests. We as guests passed it back to them and to other guests.
Civility begins with a kind and respectful gesture to anyone we meet, every day.
Orlaine I. Gabert
I have played bridge for most of my life, but I had stayed away from playing duplicate bridge. It had the reputation of not being a pleasant place to enjoy the game of bridge. Being a game and naturally you wanted to win, a fair number of players used other tactics besides skill and luck to obtain victory. I would call their actions and behaviors uncivil. First when a new pair came to the table, they would be totally ignored and not acknowledged. Next players would make negative comments about their partner’s or the opponents bidding or play. Some of the nasty tactics that were used were badgering, rudeness, insinuations, profanity, intimidation, threats or even violence. Others might provide constant lessons or analyses. Still others would use annoying behavior, make embarrassing remarks, or any behavior that would interfere with the opponent’s play.
Barbara Seagram, a Canadian who owned a bridge club and was also a teacher of bridge noticed that her students were not playing duplicate. In 1996 when she became president of Unit 166(Ontario), she joined with Paul Cronin who was also on the board. He came up with the idea of “Zero Tolerance”. From there it went to the duplicate bridge organization, ACBL( American Contract Bridge League). A Zero Tolerance Policy was adopted in November, 1997 which went into effect at the 1998 Spring NABC in Reno. The purpose of this policy is to create a much more pleasant atmosphere in NABC’s to try to eradicate unacceptable behavior in order to make the make more enjoyable for all. Or in other words, a civil environment.
Unfortunately this policy is limited to ACBL events and not individual duplicate clubs. Nevertheless ACBL has remained committed to improving acceptable player behavior at all times. Through its monthly magazine, articles are written about Zero Tolerance. Individual clubs are encouraged to adopt their own Zero Tolerance policy. Posters and promotional information is available for display and information at local clubs. Currently they have a Play Nice effort which is really transposing the two words that one likes hear when playing, “nice play”. The following are some examples of how to Play Nice- Say Hello to Everyone, Acknowledge Good Play by the Opponents, Be Understanding, Be Kind, Help Those with Less Experience, Value your Partner, Grace is Good, Respect the Directors, Enjoy. Many clubs have done just that.
Here is how the policy works. Somewhere in the room there is a poster that states that this is a Zero Tolerance game. At the beginning of each event the Director will remind the players of zero tolerance and that if there is any negative behavior that the Director needs to be called. Directors are called and make a determination of action to be taken. Usually if it is a first occurrence, a warning is issued. If the behavior persists, an adjustment of score can be made or further they cannot be allowed to play for a certain length of time. In some extreme situations, the person could be permanently banned from play at that club. It can still be difficult for some to call the Director or even say anything. Some clubs have a Zero Tolerance card in each bidding box. When there is bad behavior, the first step can be is to pull the card and set it in front of the offender. Then if the behavior persists, it can be easier to call the Director.
Civility now exists in many duplicate bridge games. I happy to report that all the duplicate games in Door County adhere to the Zero Tolerance Policy. Players are on the increase and in the Zero Tolerance games, everyone is having fun, even if the cards are not going one’s way.
Just one example that when you advance civil behavior and are committed, it will work.
Orlaine I. Gabert
For many of us participating or watching some type of sporting event starts at an early age. From Tee ball and youth soccer to professional sports and the Olympics hundreds of games are played on community fields, high school gyms, colleges sport’s centers, and city arenas daily. I was an early observer. My father, as a high school basketball coach, took my brother and I to both football and basketball games. I know I did my share of booing the referees and players. BUT since I became a part of the Door County Civility Project, I have reframed. Further I have been ashamed of my fellow fans who have done so. Whether a player, a coach, a referee, or a fan respect, a tool of civility, needs to reign.
Let’s see how affective respect can be for each of these groups in promoting civility. A player recognizes their own and their teams abilities and have received information through practice about their opponent’s skills. A part of the game’s strategy is to promote the team’s strength and address the opponent’s weaknesses to force mistakes or their human imperfection. On both sides mistakes will be made and the team with the fewest wins. Shaking hands at the beginning of a game, acknowledging a good play, no trash talk and congratulating the winners after the game all show respect. Both teams will play better.
Coaches generally have a great deal more knowledge about the specific sport than the players. Their job is first to pass on that knowledge to their players to make them skilled. Recognizing that they are learning and need time to be proficient, but never perfect, the coach can respect where each is at and provide constructive criticism and give positive encouragement whenever possible. With the referees they need to acknowledge that they are most knowledgeable on the rules and their job is to ensure that the rules are followed and call the penalty when there is a violation. It is best to not talk to them and accept the decisions that they make during the game. In doing so they are being an example to their players that the penalty decisions are the responsibility of the referees and needed to be accepted. The team has to prepare to continue play from that point. These ways of showing respect the players will play better and the referees will call accurate penalties.
The referees’ job is to see that the rules are followed and when violated to allocate a penalty. To do so they need to remain objective by maintaining neutral expressions and not allowing coaches to try to talk to them in order to try and influence their decisions. They should only talk to them when a clarification is required. They can give warnings if disrespectful behavior is seen. Without distractions, their focus remains solely on the rules.
Fans are there because they enjoy the sport, have members of the family/friends who are players, have developed a loyalty to the team. Naturally they want their team to win, but they need to recognize that mistakes are made and the other factors that affect the results- weather, home field, motivation, momentum, etc. Fans can show respect for all players by clapping and cheering their team on, being courteous to the team’s fans and congratulating them if their team wins the game. They do not need to voice their opinion on the coach’s game plan nor the calls of the referee. Their actions allow for a better played game.
Together during 2016 the area schools and the Door County Civility Project wanted to do something to encourage fans to be civil. A sign was developed to be displayed at school sporting event which has this message to the fans.
Please remember these are student athletes playing a game.
As a spectator, you are a role model
Be positive, be respectful, be supportive.
What a marvelous statement. Thank you for working together to have a civil environment for our young athletes.
Orlaine I. Gabert
As you may have noticed I have tried to focus on the tools of civility and then other positive attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that can enhance these tools and thus civility. Yet we know that there are also negative actions that can hinder civility. It is as important that we can recognize and understand these interferences to help keep us on the civility track.
One of those actions is bias. To fully understand bias and its affects, we need to step back and look at our human behavior. All of us have an array of opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about thousands of subjects based on our upbringing, our environment, our interests, our skills and talents, and our experiences. Of these we put different amounts of enthusiasm in them. Some we have a slight preference while others we have very strong feelings for them. Using myself as an example I do like the colors blue and green together, but my wardrobe has most of the colors of the rainbow. On the other hand I am an avid bridge player and Badger sports fan. While I know a lot of people who share my strong interests, I have others who do not play cards and are Ohio State fans. We accept each other’s differences.
But bias is “a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that is considered unfair” or “is treating someone negatively because of their actual or perceived age, creed, disability, ethnic or national origin, marital status, political or social affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation”. Some of the suggested reasons for bias is fear, misunderstanding, mis, inaccurate, or incomplete information, hatred, or stereotypes. Some of the following tactics may be used by someone with a bias: Extreme language that include the words “all or nothing”. The arguments used are emotional versus logical. The view of the topic is limited. Descriptions seem oversimplified and overgeneralized.
I suspect that most of us really have a few biases. We often are fully aware of some and may not really recognize others. In most of our conversations one of those biases does not show up. We can use our civility tools and have meaningful conversations. Even when we recognize our emotions rising as a bias shows, we can move away from the conversation and subject and calm ourselves down. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and our voices rise and we find ourselves saying negative things to anyone present to demonstrate how wrong they are in their thinking to convince them that our belief(bias) is the correct one. Of course this conversation ends poorly.
Unfortunately there are some who have extremely strong bias with broad bases. They are unable to not let their bias show in every conversation that they have. Now their bias is beginning to corrode their ability to be civil. Corrosion is a process of eating something away. On the tools that are not tended to or not used, a coat of rust begins to appear. Over time more of the rust appears. Eventually that tool is no longer able to be used for the purpose it was intended. Some may be able to be cleaned and useable once again while others are simply thrown away.
Now let look at the corrosion of the civility tools. With a strong bias one is now entirely focused on their beliefs or exclusive with no room for inclusion. There is only one way, your way. You are unable to pay attention or listen to someone who has a different view. You are continually telling other of the wrong and terrible beliefs of those who do not share yours. You do this in any way possible to get them on your side. There is no room for being agreeable, treating others with respect or using constructive statements. As the saying goes, “you are out for blood”. What matters is that the rest of world will take on your view and forget the rest. Eventually you are so possessed that this is your only form of communication no matter what the subject and you are not to be blamed for that. You just must proceed. As for others around you trying to be civil, they too find themselves corroded by acting in kind. Civility in our world could die if each of us does not address our own biases and keep our civility tools in working order.
Orlaine I. Gabert
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