Today our club enjoyed a Ted Talk from Steven Petrow, a writer also known as "The Civilist".   He offered that civility as we once knew it is declining - civility meaning decorum, formal politeness and polite behavior.  He pointed out that "New Speak", as defined by George Orwell in the book 1984, is when we try to change what people think by the way we use the words we do and how we use language.  Language can be labeling and demonizing, and words and expressions can be disrespectful and triggering.  He suggested that we should stop using these trigger words - words that are inflammatory and set people off.   For example, he shared that John McCain, as a politician, often had to debate others and their ideas and beliefs, but at his passing both friends and political adversaries noted that when he had to debate others he never made personal attacks.  He engaged civilly, with respect for the person even if he disagreed with their beliefs or ideas.  As a club, we discussed how important this is, to consider our words and our "labels" and generalizations as we interact with others, especially in regard to our current political climate.  We discussed how this is important for us to do as Rotarians in our community and how civility applies to our own Four Way Test: of the things we think, say and do: 
  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Today our club enjoyed a Ted Talk from Steven Petrow, a writer also known as "The Civilist".   He offered that civility as we once knew it is declining - civility meaning decorum, formal politeness and polite behavior.  He pointed out that "New Speak", as defined by George Orwell in the book 1984, is when we try to change what people think by the way we use the words we do and how we use language.  Language can be labeling and demonizing, and words and expressions can be disrespectful and triggering.  He suggested that we should stop using these trigger words - words that are inflammatory and set people off.   For example, he shared that John McCain, as a politician, often had to debate others and their ideas and beliefs, but at his passing both friends and political adversaries noted that when he had to debate others he never made personal attacks.  He engaged civilly, with respect for the person even if he disagreed with their beliefs or ideas.  As a club, we discussed how important this is, to consider our words and our "labels" and generalizations as we interact with others, especially in regard to our current political climate.  We discussed how this is important for us to do as Rotarians in our community and how civility applies to our own Four Way Test: of the things we think, say and do: 
  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
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