Our Reputation for Civility

January 12, 2011

Our Reputation for Civility

It is hard not to think about the reputation that our country has as a civil nation when events like the tragic shootings in Arizona occur. I was on the phone with a colleague in London earlier this week and she exclaimed how horrific it was to watch the news about Arizona over the weekend. She said that it was on non-stop. [And yes, the young man who pulled the trigger was undoubtedly mentally insane and not just uncivil!]
For a second, I was taken about because I nearly thought of the killings as our secret and shame. However, I know that local is now global when it comes to news and once again, America’s reputation for uncivil behavior needs adjusting. Of course, every country has its moments of tragedy and loss of human life for no reason but the killings and near death of Representative Giffords made us all stop in our tracks and wonder where we are headed as a nation.

About six months ago, we surveyed Americans about civility in this country to determine whether it was in fact mounting in our national dialogue, homes, schools and online. The results were chilling and as expected — we have work to do.  My hope is that we can calm the rhetoric and discuss civility around dinner tables for a long time to come and give our young people a true civics lesson. Perhaps when we revisit civility later this year, we will see a reckoning of sorts.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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