It isn't necessary that we all become nicer on a superficial level. Instead, we should teach ourselves to respond effectively and differently to accidental offense and purposeful insult. We should make a greater effort each day to understand the views expressed by others, question rapidly formed assumptions, expect credible support for controversial positions, respect debate, and, when possible, limit the escalation of disagreement to confrontation.
In this way, civility is not confused with timidity. It is not admired over the courage to speak up and stand up to those who debase all of us by demeaning any of us. It becomes a means of improving the way we interact with others who deserve our respect just as we deserve theirs.
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