Most people dislike capricious judgment, intolerance, crime, shaming, blaming, punishing, unequal treatment and predatory opportunism. Yet we witness, hear about or directly experience one or more of these uncivil behaviors daily. What’s going on?
It used to be that when incivility in our home, neighborhood, schools, or community spaces harmed us, we counted on shared ethical norms to guide and help. We confidently relied on societal guardrails like the law, regulations or corporate policies for fair remedy.
But can we still? These days it sometimes feels like up is down, down is up, right is wrong, wrong is right, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Even our ethical compass doesn’t seem as reliable as it used to.
We’re not crazy to feel unanchored or anxious. Americans live in a moment when our constitutional federal republic and Western ethics face enormous challenge from those who would prefer a different construct.
Desiring change is one thing, but abandoning civility in its pursuit results in ethical chaos, societal breakdown, and individual misery. This holds true for human groups small and large, from the family to the federal government.
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Diane D. White, MBA, CPA, CMA, is a finance and accounting executive with 39 years of control and business leadership expertise in both large and small for-profit and non-profit corporations. She served several Fortune 50 corporations as Division Controller for 25 years before becoming a CFO for nonprofits and small businesses. Diane recently retired as CFO of Workforce Resource, a nationwide mortgage finance service provider. She and her husband Jim reside in Beaufort, SC where she enjoys volunteer work, teaching, consulting, writing, and a wide array of Lowcountry outdoor pleasures.
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