“Being human is a moral duty.”
Those who are with me on this virtual sharing, may have read, a couple of weeks ago, the post on this blog devoted to a precious but somehow ignored value, kindness. At the time, I said that it should come hand in hand with another key value, that of civility. I want to reflect on it today, and I would love to know what you think and what you practice about it.
We can realize, even from the actual individuality, that humans are social creatures, and that if we lose that sociability, we can also lose meaning, direction, company, our potential. We are born men and women, but without our relationships with others, our nature is not to become human beings. Humanity emerges from the values, habits and social patterns that we teach and learn from our interactions. One of my favorite disciplines, Social Psychology, studies that, but far from investigation, it is only each of us who can understand how important these links are as a source of our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and actions: through others, we understand what love, hate, wisdom, jealousy, approval, motivation, rejection, negative and positive review are.
We are human when are transformed into carriers of this social culture, to begin with. When we learn, that’s what the writer Graham Greene relates to in his quote; When we are permeable and projectors of solidarity, care and respect. When we make sure well-being and coexistence last.
Human means civic.
Civility is a term whose Latin origin, civis, translates as ‘citizen’. And a citizen is the one who follows the rules and makes the effort to live quietly with their neighbours, near or far. Civility is thus a meta-value, as it includes as a concept respect, solidarity, cooperation, good manners, moderation, discretion, empathy, willingness, effort and generosity.
Out from every human being’s excellent behaviour we get the seeds for the ethical and aesthetical health of the peoples. A civic culture that proclaims its serenity conspicuously, thanks to the confidence of the ones who nurture and represent it, and to the confidence that this feeling awakens in other towns. Civility is essential not only for the creation of culture, but it is only possible if it comes from the self, from the individual and from small details.
Hence I deeply vindicate civic pedagogy. I insist on children and adults collaborating, integrating good manners and teaching and learning at the same time to think of the others as a resource for us. To reach out, to be empathetic, to consider those who are in need, to share, to listen, to create a common space we all want.
Now, I would like to say farewell with two quotes that I think resume the essence of this post, the civility that is ethics and courtesy we should never miss:
“The importance attached to the value of civility represents a recovery of virtue ethics, as conceived by Aristotle, for whom the virtues were the axis of ethics and politics.”
VICTORIA CAMPS (Professor of Ethics)
“Courtesy is the most exquisite perfume of life, and has such nobility and generosity we can all give it away, even those who have nothing in the world.”
AMADO NERVO (Writer)
I wish you a very human week.
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