Civility

Laughing-mona-lisa
I was pondering today Tina Fey's brilliant but altogether unfair portrayals of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. If one takes Lorne Michaels' perspective on Sarah Palin, one would think that no one, other than George Bush (another of Michael's whipping children) can surpass her stupidity. This isn't accurate…or fair. It is pretty funny.

It seems to me that given the fact many Americans have been thrown under the bus at some point by those that are supposed to be their leaders, it's getting harder to follow. And, as America's distrust of leadership grows, our caricaturing and condescension helps us, in some way, process the frustration we feel at how things are going.

Over time, if we are not careful, we may become a nation of mediocre armchair quarterbacks who really believe that what seems amazingly obvious to us is just simply missed by those people in positions of leadership…who are obviously not as smart as we are. We may come to think, over time, "If they could see as clearly as I do on my computer screen or on my TV, they wouldn't make the idiotic decisions they make. Any moron can see that's a bad idea." This is seldom actually the case.

There is no question that leaders make some awful decisions (pick your favorite from this past week). Nevertheless, it seems to me that a lack of civility (and our tolerance of it), is bad medicine for us in the long run. This doesn't mean that we can't have opinions, or try to persuade others to them passionately. It does mean that, ugliness, condescension, and all their children do more to create an environment of disrespect than of authentic humor and genuine public discourse. We now see anyone and anything as fodder for humor…and that of even the most ugly type.

Jesus says that it is out of the heart the mouth speaks. Because of this, I'm concerned about our collective soul. Christians can lead the way here, by submitting our views, passion for them, and humor to the Lordship of Christ. 

I love to laugh, and love making fun of people's quirks. It's one of life's great joys in my book…but it's His book that should govern how and if it happens.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Civility

  1. While it’s true that no one dies or loses their job (usually) over such matters, I would hate to think that anger justifies whatever behavior we engage in. I take your point to be not that anger excuses ANY behavior…just the behavior I mention in the post. My point isn’t that anger isn’t justified. But it’s also fair to say, I believe, that much of American’s anger is directed toward caricatures of the people and issues involved, rather than the actual people and issues.

  2. Respectfully, I’m not sure this takes account of the extent of hubris and greed the American people have witnessed in recent years, wrapped in religion and patriotism, and are now suffering its terrible consequences. Perhaps this humor, however exaggerated or unfair, is simply an outlet, or substitute, for anger. At least no one died or lost their retirement income or their job.