Don't Rush Me
Why are the 'civi' words important?
(Besides being part of the root word, civis)
March 30, 2011 - Last week I spouted off: Let's Get Rid Of All Newspapers, my headline screamed. It is an interesting world we live in, and sometimes this small-town (some would say small-minded) newspaperman has to step back and take a breath from all the running I need to do just keep from eating dust.
"Eating dust," you question?
Yep, eating the dust left in the wake of supersonic technology changes and the subsequent changing of the public's appetite for nanosecond fast news information. Folks these days want their "news" fast and on-line so they can go and gossip about it as fast as they can on their social networking webpages -- in effect, reporting themselves, what they have read somewhere else. Whether or not said information is accurate or hearsay or out and out lies, is well, up for anyone to debate.
When we report inaccurate information we gotta' put a correction, in print for all the world to read (and for some to gloat over).
As one who is trained to observe, digest and report, it has also been interesting to watch what folks want in their news and then what they do with it. Most disturbing is this: Readers want their news to match their own (many times preconceived) notions. We must report on how they saw something, versus, what we observed. If we don't there is hell to pay.
I know when we do it "right" because we get whacked from both sides of the political spectrum. We live in polarized times. You don't just live in a "red" or "blue" state, you live in red, blue (or pick your flavor) community, street or home. Even locally you are either with a certain group, organization or you are against it.
People are either in all the way, or they are all wet – agree with me (whomever "me" is) or be publicly and vocally castrated.
"Oh Small-minded one," again you ask, "How can you spew such vile opinion? We of this goodly town are of His loins; His blood flows through our veins and is pumped by our pure-as-the-driven-snow hearts?"
Again, ever the observer, I have watched and silently, in the shadows, waited. I have also read the letters to our newspapers when we write, oh say on school financing. Letters come in packed with venom from all sides of a single issue . . . the patriots who want to guillotine the budget because it is bloated with fat; the bureaucrats who want to grow their way out of problems; and the folks in the middle who can only gravitate to one side or the other because they have been trained not to think for themselves or to believe that, with new information available, it is "ok" to change your mind.
Again, if we don't write the story lock-step in order, folks let us know, usually indignantly and not very politely, either (another by-product of technology run amok is the concept of manners, it is easy to be asinine when you can anonymously hide behind a computer keyboard.)
What I don't see is someone standing up and saying, "You know, Patriots, you are correct here, here and here. Bureaucrats, you are right here, here and here." Or, "You both are wrong, let us do this."
What is the word I am looking for? Ah, there it is -- civility. It has been lost, much to my chagrin. Lost too is the understanding of civics.
I knew the words were related, but not why. So, I went on-line (a good technology by-product) and typed in "Civility root word." Here is what I found:
"The root-words are civ and civil which come from the Latin civis (citizen)."
Why is that, civics, important? There is a quote on actor Richard Dreyfuss' website, www.thedreyfussinitiative.org, that says, "It is the knowledge of and effective use of, the tools of political power; of how to maintain and comprehend this democracy."
Dear Reader, what are your civic duties and why do I bring it up? I invite you to respond.
Drop me a line, Don@ShermanPublications.org
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org