Thursday, September 23, 2004

Coals on the Head

I just came up with a slogan for my campaign for civility in politics:

No one can be ruthlessly victorious who cannot be scrupulously civil.

But, as one might guess, the Book of Proverbs says it better, because it makes it clearer why this is so:

Proverbs 25 (Young's Literal Translation)
21 If he who is hating thee doth hunger, cause him to eat bread, And if he thirst, cause him to drink water.
22 For coals thou art putting on his head, And Jehovah giveth recompense to thee.

People, I think, are always hesitant to be civil in politics because they are afraid that nice guys finish last. But whoever said that being civil meant being nice? Civility covers all sorts of situations, including situations in which you have to deal with unpleasantness. You can be coldly civil as well as kindly civil. You can be pointedly, even bitingly, civil when others are being uncivil. You can be civil without being servile; you can be civil without being quiet. For, as the saying goes, civility is simply about carefully choosing one's way rather than running heedlessly through the dirt. It does take a certain ingenuity. But it is what succeeds.

Treat your enemies with civility and it's coals on their heads, friends, and no loss to you: Jehovah giveth recompense!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.