Marjorie JamesThis may end up sounding like a whine, which it probably is. However, it does relate to Collaborative law, so stick with me on this.

My father grew up in Florida. Consequently, I was raised with the following precepts.

*Treat all people with respect, especially my elders. “Yes, Ma’am”, “No, Ma’am” and “Yes, Sir”, “No, Sir” were required.

*Always give elders the right of way.

*Obey those in authority over me. If I didn’t understand why, I could ask (after obeying), but it had to be with an attitude of respect.

*As a lady (at any age), I was to speak with grace, never descending to what my parents called “gutter language.”

*My brother was taught never to swear around lades or even engage in “trash talk” when ladies might be able to hear it.

In other words, as Southerners would say, “Be nice.” (I wish I could spell “nice” like they say it, with two syllables.)

I am increasingly struck by the lack of civility in speaking and actions in today’s world. Yes, I am ranting a bit, but I can’t believe that I am the only one with experiences like this. The other day, I was ready to board my bus to Safeco Field when a group of young people, looking to be college-age, came up. Instead of getting behind the line, they congregated next to me and then pushed past me to get on the bus first. One actually bumped into me to get around and didn’t even say, “Excuse me.”

A co-worker at Safeco Field, Victor, was recently knocked to the ground by a bicyclist as he was walking on one of the walking/running/bicycling paths we have in the Seattle area. Even though Victor was lying on the ground, struggling to get himself up, the bicyclist, who was not injured, got back on his bike and said, “Sorry, Dude” as he pedaled off. Victor, with an injured shoulder and severe, bleeding scrapes on his legs, finally was able to get himself up and slowly struggled for 30 to 40 minutes before reaching his home. “Sorry, Dude”?

At a local mall, while I was getting something to drink at Starbuck’s, a young man was talking rather loudly. I don’t even remember what he was talking about because every other word was the “f-bomb.”

I believe that civility must be a part of a society for that society to thrive. Disrespect of anyone, no matter what form it takes, degrades our humanity. The term “civil war” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, because how can we be civil if we are shooting at each other? However, “civil war” is, in many ways, the benchmark of Collaborative law. In what is one of the worst “wars” of life, polite and measured speech is vital for a well-structured outcome. If civility can be obtained in this situation, it should be a part of all public discourse!

Copyright 2013. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.