Editorial: Taking island group’s ‘Civility Pledge’ is a good start

It may not be the answer to the woes of a divided nation, but promoting civility at home is welcome start.

Liberals from South Whidbey are joining with conservatives from Oak Harbor to launch a grassroots movement dedicated to the ideals of respect and courtesy.

Great concept, eh?

The group Civility First describes itself as a group of Island County citizens “concerned about the normalization of uncivil discourse.”

It may seem impossible not to talk about President Donald Trump in any discussion about the proliferation of rudeness and disrespectful language. The New York Times reported this summer that he’s on track to insult 650 people, places and things on Twitter alone by the end of his first term.

Yet Civility First isn’t about discussing or criticizing the president or any other political figure. It’s strictly nonpartisan.

Cathy Whitmire, one of the founders, says the group’s focus is on civility — defining what it means and promoting it in the community.

The group’s secret weapon is the Civility First Pledge, available to take at www.civilityfirst.org

In signing the pledge, people are agreeing to “model civil behavior and tone, online as well as in public,” to genuinely attempt to understand the point of view of others, to make only accurate statements in defending a position and to expect others to do all of the above.

It’s not about being quietly complacent and agreeable. The pledge calls for people to challenge disrespectful behavior, but in a courteous manner.

Of course, there are no civility police to ensure people abide by the pledge, but simply striving to meet its objectives would certainly be welcome in what are, quite often, not-so-civil times.

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