“Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a ‘good’ man is squeezing the trigger… have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.” ~Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell, reviewed by George Orwell in The Adelphi (January 1939)
Civility: 1. courtesy; politeness.2. a polite action or expression: an exchange of civilities. 3. Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.” At the end of the day, civility is, at very least, about being polite and courteous. Given life’s spectrum of relationships – spousal, family, close friends, social friends, work colleagues, online friends, and the public at large – the hope is that civility would be woven somewhere in among them all.
Yet in 2015, bullies are everywhere. Contrary to “civility to all,” the words F-U better epitomize popular discourse, with road rage as a perfect example. Verbal/emotional abuse has been “normalized” in every kind of relationship thanks to reality TV, rap music, professional sports and other media. Even the Disney channel gets in the act with “tweener” shows casting boys and girls as competitive and envious, doing deliberately mean things to each other.
What’s up with all this? Bullies are the winners: Today’s standard for success requires a company, industry or individual to be able to assert power over others. We find the media praising a company, an industry, or an individual as “dominating” or “owning” someone or something…as a supposedly good thing. All the while, the negative personal and societal psychological impact of domination as a hallmark of success remains overlooked and under-reported.
Dominate: 1. to rule over; govern; control. 2. to tower above; overlook; overshadow 3. to predominate, permeate, or characterize
In America, to dominate is to win. Values of personal integrity, reciprocity, adding value, mutual respect and civility, matter only if and when they lead to “winning.” Otherwise, values fly out the window, and the end, (winning), justifies the means (no matter who gets hurt).
Why? Context generates content.
Centuries ago a global, debt-based, central-banking-monetary system was established by, and for, the pinnacle of society’s moneyed-class. While, at the same time, rewarding the “haves” and extracting wealth from the “have nots,” a business model evolved that we have come to consider normal; one that requires the skills of domination for success. Those who do it well, we call, “leaders.”
Since a debt-based system thrives only as debt grows, those with the greatest ability to generate and collect compound-interest are the ones that monopolize the financial, political and business scenes. Obscene monetary rewards fall to these big winners; many of whom peddle the grossest, most addictive, violent and, unconscionable products and services. Weapon manufacturers, government and private contractors, as well as much of the banking, pharmacy, food, music, gaming (gambling), TV, video and film industries (think porno), consistently pocket the mega-bucks.
The worship of domination churns out generations of people who can’t wait to gain power over others since, culturally, this is how they will find “success” and be lauded for doing so. Seldom will anyone speak above hushed tones to link the many mounting personal and societal problems of our times with the “winner” paradigm of domination. As I have said before, there is no money in the truth.
If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” bullying is simply the natural outcome of extolling the cultural virtues of winning through domination. Sadly, workplace-abuse-of-power, domestic violence, playground bullies, senseless murders, and perpetual wars here and abroad are just some of what it looks like. Legislate civility? Good luck with that. Attempts to legislate civility are but empty Band-aid, measures in a post-modern world impacted by a currency burdened with more debt than equity. Today’s economic “Musical Chairs” exposes the ruthless side of humans when faced with the fear of lack. This is the content generated by the context of an inequitable monetary system.
In my opinion, even should a more equitable monetary system replace the current one, civility can never truly be legislated. It is a personal choice. At different times in my own life, I unwittingly opted to dominate, to have power over someone for one reason or another. Just imagine the possibilities if we individually reclaimed the useless finger of blame in the litigious world of domination and control, and to both friend and foe alike, instead chose to practice civility, personal responsibility, and who knows, maybe even kindness!