Letter: Can civility be taught and learned?

Civility is about the character of who we are. Civility brings core values to life in the everydayness of one's behavior. Today, a corrosive lack of civility is evident in every segment of society, from politics to academia, from media to the blo...

Civility is about the character of who we are. Civility brings core values to life in the everydayness of one's behavior. Today, a corrosive lack of civility is evident in every segment of society, from politics to academia, from media to the blogosphere, from talk radio to the pulpit. As a result, incivility has become socially acceptable, commonplace, and virtually instantaneous in electronic communications such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and email.

Intolerance, self-indulgent anger and partisan vitriolic rants are destroying the civility on which democratic government depends. In an era when broadcast and print media are unable to resist the temptation to label, to stereotype, and to denigrate others' reputations, outbursts of uncivil dialogue allow individuals to say whatever one feels, as soon as one feels like it, and to feel rewarded for doing so.

While it cannot be legislated, civility can be taught and learned in principled ways in academic settings. Our neighborhood schools and campuses represent our nation's best hope creating and sustaining respectful conversations which are intentional, inclusive, instructive and civil.

Bowman lives in Fargo.