A Return to Civility
As mayor, I enjoy interacting with young people. They are indeed the future. Any time I am invited to share my experiences or words of encouragement with them, I am happy to do so.
Last month, I spoke at the graduation ceremonies for Heritage Academy on Hilton Head Island. What an awesome group of students! I was honored to celebrate this milestone with them and shared my thoughts on an important character: civility. When the ceremonies ended, some attendees told me my remarks were right on point and asked if I could share them with others:
“It’s been an interesting four years—COVID, war in Ukraine, the economy, and whatever else the news tells you. There are many topics I can touch on, but the most important one I want to share with you today is civility. As you head out into the world today, have the courage to stand for civility.
Our world, over the last few years, has edged away from being a place of hope, kindness, and respect for each other and our values. Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same.
One area of everyday life in which to practice civility is that of conversation. A civil discussion is the free and respectful exchange of ideas. This doesn’t mean we all have to agree, but it does mean we must disagree respectfully. Practice listening. Practice gratitude.
But you have the power to bring back these values, starting with you, your family, and your circle of friends and influence. Often, in meetings that I lead, I find that people have lost some civility, and that creates disagreement, discourse, and conflict.
We don’t want that for you or our community. We all want to live our best lives and create a community that is welcoming, inclusive, warm, and wonderful. It will take all of us to make our community this way. Wherever you land, I hope that you stand up for what is right and do so in a civil manner.
Matthew Emerzian, in his book, Every Monday Matters, stated, “Our words, our actions, and our thoughts all matter and have lasting ripple effects. Always think before you act. Make sure your words, actions, and thoughts uplift others.”
I encourage you to be strong and respect others along the way. I believe each of you is destined to be greater than you are already and will leave a lasting impression wherever your journey takes you. Congratulations on your well-deserved success and God bless you.”
To all graduates and their families, congratulations, and I wish you well on your journey.