Civilization is supposed to be the foundation of every successful culture. It’s supposed to allow us to live in safety without being crippled by fear. It’s supposed to provide the willingness to discuss our differences, not to fight over them.
Civilization is supposed to be efficient, in that it’s supposed to permit every member of society to participate at their highest capacity. It’s also at the heart of our morality because civilization is supposed to be based upon fairness.
The civilization of a city or town where people look out for one another and help when help is needed is worth seeking out. We used to have those in abundance and we still do. However, you have to be willing to forgo some contemporary comforts and in most cases, move away from urban environments to find it.
Over the last few generations, we’ve made huge progress in creating an ever more civilized culture, although in the last couple of years and especially in the last 100 days, you wouldn’t think it. Access to information is better than it’s ever been but the information is for the most part, not the right information.
As a result, human culture is far from fully civilized, but as the years go by, hopefully we’ll better at seeing all the ways we have to improve. This can be our goal; every day with every initiative, to make something more civilized. To find more dignity and possibility and opportunity for those around us, those we know and those we don’t know.
Hence the imperative! Our interactions must begin with a standard of civility. Our work as individuals and as leaders becomes worthwhile and generational when we add to our foundation of civilization instead of chipping away at it.
The standard can come from each of us. We can do it. We can speak up. We can decide to care a little more. We can stand up to the boss, the CEO, or the elected representative and say, “wait,” when they cross the line, or when they pursue profit at the cost of community, or when they throw out the rules in search of a brawl.
Truth be told, the race to the bottom and the urge to win at all costs aren’t new, but they’re not supposed to be a part of who we are and ought to be.