In case you missed it Wednesday while receiving a one-finger salute from an angry and disrespectful motorist on Interstate 40 or falling victim to a foul-mouthed troll on social media, yesterday was something called the National Day of Civility.
The hashtag #NationalDay ofCivility was trending Wednesday, the apparent work of some members of Congress concerned about the political divide in America.
U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist (a Democrat from Florida) and Mike Johnson (a Republican from Louisiana) penned “Promoting civility and practicing the Golden Rule every day” for thehill.com, which explained the impetus for a National Day of Civility. And many members of Congress tweeted in support.
Congress sees the need for such a special day following an act of insanity by an obviously deranged individual who shot at members of Congress June 14 during a baseball practice. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was seriously injured.
We understand the concern from Congress (and increased civility is never a bad thing), but hashtags and resolutions don’t have much substance. (Remember the hashtag #BringBack OurGirls, which resulted in many politicians tweeting about the more than 200 young women kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria? That was more than three years ago. And hashtags accomplished what, in this case?)
And besides, a National Day of Civility misses the point.
Violence like that perpetrated against members of Congress last month has a political overtone, but let’s get to the real problem — mental illness. The individual responsible for this horrific act obviously had issues far more substantial than political leanings, as did the person who shot former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011.
Political partisanship is just are potential factors of a much more serious condition — mental illness.
Crist and Johnson also cited a research report which indicates civility in America has reached “crisis levels.”
We would argue this “crisis” has existed since America’s inception and it is just more apparent now thanks to those who take to social media to rant and rave about politics, oftentimes with little to no understanding.
Arguably, the greatest “crisis” or divide in America occurred from 1861 to 1865, when the nation was torn in half and waged the bloodiest war in its history. Thank God we are nowhere near this point yet, and may the nation never be again.
Again — a little more civility is welcome, but so is a little perspective.