Uncivil times [Editorial]

thendricks@theaegis.com

Today is the start of a Choose Civility effort in Harford County.

Choose Civility, according to a front-page story in The Aegis Friday, is a national campaign to lift up communities by promoting respect, empathy and tolerance between individuals and within and among organizations.

Barry Glassman, the county executive, and Mary Hastler, the CEO of the Harford County Public Library, are the leaders of the new local chapter.

“The way we treat one another directly impacts our daily lives, which is why I am proud to partner with Mary Hastler and our public library on this ambitious campaign,” Glassman said in a statement. “We care deeply about our community because of the people who call it home. By working together we can choose to make Harford County even better – we can choose civility.”

It’s been a long, long time since there’s been such a desperate need for civility in our nation and in our discourse. There are daily bombardments of rude, disrespectful behavior and/or commentary.

Starting with an almost every morning fusillade of Twitter attacks from President Trump, carrying through a full day of his supporters and his detractors battling back and forth in person, on social media or however they find a way to express their views, these are uncivil days.

Ours is a deeply divided nation, growing more so by the minute, and Harford County is reflective of the state of our country.

Trump’s supporters believe his bombastic approach to leadership is just what the United States needs, if only the mainstream media would report his activities in a much more supportive way. A Fox and Friends approach is more to their liking.

Trump’s detractors believe he’s an uncouth bully, who surrounds himself with sycophants and ne’er-do-wells to do his bidding as the president picks on minorities and the powerless, especially young children at the border.

As with any two children in a fight, each side in the pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump disagreement has valid points. And, as with many childish behaviors, the pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump rhetoric is too often unfit to be mimicked by grownups.

Yet, the lack of civility goes on and on.

When Trump’s candidacy started getting traction, Glassman definitively and publicly, albeit gingerly, denounced Trump, what he stood for and how he behaved. Gov. Larry Hogan has done the same.

It’s no surprise then that Glassman is leading the way to what he and Hastler believe can be a more civil way of interacting with others. The only surprising aspect of this Harford County Choose Civility campaign is that it didn’t start sooner.

Both sides of our national divide need to dial down the volume and the passion of our differences. Ours has never been a nation where everyone walks in lock step. Even in our most prosperous times, there has been a significant opposition to those leading us through prosperity.

The freedom for everyone to express their views, no matter how out of step with the majority of any given day, is one of the things that make our nation great.

That freedom doesn’t, however, have to be exercised as angrily, belligerently and loudly as it is today.

We applaud Glassman and Hastler for bringing Choose Civility to Harford County and their efforts to bring the discourse in our area back to a respectful, tolerable din.

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