Civility: our duty in word and in ballot

Tuesday, Nov. 8, will be our opportunity to make a difference as to which direction our nation will head in, as the biggest issues which have been argued by candidates will soon be decided. As citizens of the United States of America, it is our duty to be actively involved while also being responsible and respectful.

The term civility refers to formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech; in other words, politeness, courtesy or respect. It’s something we have not seen much of in the current presidential election, especially in the media and throughout the political debates.

Civility is important in terms of respect as well as responsibility for civic duties. It is important that we take part in our government through the political process, especially through educating ourselves and voting.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a letter on Oct. 5 regarding political participation, voting and the political neutrality of the Church.

“As citizens, we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy,” according to the letter. “Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs. We also urge you to spend the time needed to become informed about the issues and candidates you will be considering.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains neutral on their stance of political views, which is not common when it comes to religious groups. As church members, we need to be respectful of everyone’s privilege to make their own political decisions.

It is important that we actively take part in our government. We should not simply avoid voting because we do not like the options presented before us, but rather, we need to see what we can do to make a difference.

Although millennials have caught up to the baby boomers in terms of voting eligibility, the number of millennials who actually vote, is much lower, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Finding formal politeness and respect in politics in 2016 is not common. The majority of what is said seems to be negative comments about the government or political candidates rather than encouraging and uplifting things.

During the Vice Presidential Debate held on Oct. 4, Mike Pence, Tim Kaine and Moderator Elaine Quijano all spoke at the same time throughout the discussion. Interruptions to one another occurred 70 times, according to an article written by Ryan Struyk at ABC News.

Other sources have cited higher than 70.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have interrupted each other many times as well. In the first debate, interruptions numbered somewhere between 35 and 51 times depending on how you define interruptions, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Struggles with candidates interrupting one another have happened in past elections, one example being the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney back in 2012, according to New York Times.

At the conclusion of the presidential debate on Oct. 8, candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were asked to make one positive comment about one another.

While naming one positive comment about their opponent seems like a simple task, the two candidates struggled to do this in a direct way.

In President Gordon B. Hinckley’s October 1994 BYU address entitled, “Codes and Covenants,” he said civility is important in our society.

“Civility is the root of the word civilization,” President Hinckley said. “It carries with it the essence of courtesy and politeness and consideration of others.”

President Hinckley said we have lost much civility in our modern society. He said this lack is seen throughout media in fault-finding, criticism, arrogance and in individuals who feel they are superior to others in intellect.

“Oh, how we need to cultivate a greater measure of civility in our society,” President Hinckley said.

Here in 2016, we can be considerate of others in our society by communicating with civility to those around us.

“Because we are all members of the same political community, interacting on grounds of civic equality, we have an obligation to be polite in our everyday interactions with our fellow citizens,” said Richard Boyd, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University in a 2006 article, “The Value of Civility?” for the journal Urban Studies.

While civility may be a valued quality for many of us as citizens, others may argue it is more important to be politically correct in all situations rather than to be respectful and kind to others.

“Perhaps the most important of the great fundamentals of the inspired Constitution is the principle of popular sovereignty: The people are the source of government power,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Along with voting, it is important we get involved in our communities. Participating in city council meetings, volunteering and being law-abiding citizens are all ways that we can help show our civility.

“It is part of our civic duty to be moral in our conduct toward all people,” Elder Oaks said. “There is no place in responsible citizenship for dishonesty or deceit or for willful lawbreaking of any kind.”

Living in this free country is a privilege, and we can show how much we care bymaking sure we are involved in the government and our communities around us.

The more engaged we are in our communities, the more we are able to learn and listen to others’ options. We exercise the right to our opinions through our ability to vote. As we come in contact with those who we do not agree with, we need to always show respect and civility in our interactions.

'Civility: our duty in word and in ballot' has 1 comment

  1. October 18, 2016 @ 12:43 am Jake

    Very well written.


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