September 2018 President’s Message from Cindy Towles

Hi neighbors!  Last night, I was re-watching one of my favorite classic movies, The Quiet Man (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara), and something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before.  The movie portrays Catholics and Protestants getting along, which has not historically been the case.  (BTW, contrary to what a lot of people think, the disagreements are not theological, but based on class struggles and the issue of nationalism).   In the midst of the epic brawl scene, the predominantly Catholic village is rallied by their priest, Father Lonergan, to line the road to cheer for Protestant Reverend Playfair (who is hosting the Anglican Bishop who has the intention of closing the Protestant church for lack of attendance) to make it appear that Playfair’s church is much bigger than it actually is.

In a pretty humorous moment, the priest covers his Roman collar with a scarf, and exhorts his parishioners, “Now when the Reverend Mr. Playfair, good man that he is, comes down, I want ya’s all to cheer like Protestants…”

Sure, there were critics that said this would never happen, but there are always folk who will find the dark cloud around every silver lining.  But I do think it is possible, in a small community, to overlook differences in the interest of survival and of the community itself.    Four years ago, at Supervisor Miley’s campaign party on election night at the Carpenter’s Hall on Mattox, I remember looking around in the room in wonder at the diversity in age, ethnicity and religion.

I am beginning to have serious doubts as to whether everyone really should be entitled to an opinion, particularly on Facebook.  When did people forget how to “agree to disagree”?   Whatever happened to civility?  While Googling for quotes, I ran across author named P.M. Forni, professor at Johns Hopkins University, who started something called the Civility Initiative.  Civility, according to Wikipedia, is the action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes. Some definitions conflate civility with politeness, which suggests disengaging with others so as not to offend (“roll over and play dead”…). […] In his call for restoring civility, Pastor Rick Warren said, “In America, we’ve got to learn how to disagree without demonizing each other.”

In one article, Forni quotes Yale law professor Stephen Carter, “Civility is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.” It is a sacrifice, however, that we make for our own sake as well as others’. In another article, Forni says that when we engage in a civil and pleasant exchange with a friend, for instance, our bodies release neurochemicals such as oxytocin and serotonin that lower our stress levels, make us feel better and strengthen both our immune system and our bonds with that friend. The bottom line? The harmonious relationships that civility helps foster have a positive impact on our overall well-being […]. “Kindness,” he said, “is very good for the kind.”

So please, for your own sake, as well as for the sake of the rest of us, when having a discourse, keep it civil, be kind, get some happy neurochemicals.   And cheer (like a Protestant, like the ones who drink beer in the cellar of Murphy’s Saloon, like a Raiderette, or however you want) for your neighbor.

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