GIVING THANKS, 2015

Civility is a form of social harmony. Over time it's always a creative enterprise because it must be intentional if it's going to endure.

Civility is a form of social harmony. Over time it's always a creative enterprise because it must be intentional if it's going to endure.

Today marks the unofficial start to what some call The Silly Season. With Thanksgiving week upon us, millions of people are trying to navigate the complexities of cooking, travel, family, and inevitable juggling of priorities simply to keep various aspects of their lives on track. Some people have high expectations, some people have low expectations, some people hope they’ll simply get through it with their sanity intact. 

This year for Thanksgiving I’m thankful for small gestures of civility among people who don't know each other. I always take note of these experiences throughout the year. Especially when I'm traveling, but also in the local spaces of my ordinary days, a gesture or phrase of patient civility goes miles with me. The reason for this is that we all face so many countervailing expressions of anonymous aggression. Wars may rage at the top of the angry heap, but in many ways that have nothing to do with bombs and bullets there seems to be an endless list of inventive ways that people have figured out how to be cruel to each other. I’m thankful for those expressions that aim for the alternative.

At another time, in another space, it may be worth ruminating which side of human behavior is the norm, peaceful or aggressive. Everyone has thoughts about this and not everyone agrees. For now, I'll simply say that when I experience or even hear about gestures of civility, I’m thankful. The alternative to endless vitriol offers profound potentials for invention, for growth, and even pleasure. On Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for demonstrations of people finding ways simply to treat each other well, or at least with respect. 

Is this a creative enterprise, and therefore germane to this blog? For some it may be. As a creative person, one who prefers to spend his time with other creative people, this simple observation can be the difference between distracting exasperation and clarity of thought. In creating harmonious interactions between people of all types, the world becomes a little more desirable, a little brighter. Since it’s unrealistic that everyone is going to LIKE everyone else in the world, the process of finding ways to treat everyone with civil respect becomes a creative enterprise. That’s even more accurate when we consider that successful creative enterprises are almost always sincere; they are true to themselves. 

In short, I’m thankful for those who create harmony.

@michaelstarobin

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