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January 12, 2007


They smear their opponents
They use intimidation and insults
To win debates and arguments

Faced with controversial issues
They are unable to interact with civility

They level personal attacks
They demonize and dehumanize
Those who think different than them

Inflicting gaping wounds
They are willing to destroy others
They disdain their rivals and peers

What to do when incivility reigns?
I try to be civil and respectful
To raise the tenor of public debates
To rise above the bullies
Instead of stooping to their level

Expressing goodwill and esteem
Shunning and reigning in contempt
I spurn name-calling and put downs
Vicious and heartless attacks
Dragging people through the mud

Addressing the issues in constructive ways
I focus on solutions which can be successful

I open my eyes and my ears
To the grand diversity of people
To a variety of voices and views
I value diversity and dissent

Committed to resolving conflict
Through dialogue rather than mandate
I craft an eloquent argument
Setting forth my position clearly

Seeing past my own fury
I acknowledge my opponent's gifts
The force and strengths of his positions

Rather than deliberately distorting them
I present his views in a balanced way

I treat my opponents and adversaries
With generosity and charity
As respected and admired colleagues
Searching in collaboration with me
For solutions to our shared problems

I respond to meanness of others
With courtesy and respect
So that others may also rise to the occasion
And moderate their tone to match mine

I remind my self
Many human problems need our attention
They require informed debates
They demand cooperative resolutions

Without a climate of civility
There is little hope of dealing
With these challenges

-- Rotterdam, Netherlands

For letters section
To Sasan Seifikar

Sasan Seifikar


Book of the day

The Pursuit of Pleasure
Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900
by Rudi Matthee


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