Education & Civil Discourse in A More Perfect Union
January 27 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by 1/21/22 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765.584.9077.
Democracy is the most fragile of all political systems and is currently on the defensive around the world as more and more countries fall under authoritarian rule. One reason for its brittleness is the demands that it makes on citizens. Not only must they obey the law, pay their taxes, serve in the armed forces when called upon and serve on juries, they are also expected to select their governmental leaders and make public policies through elections and referenda. Casting informed ballots, peacefully accepting the electoral outcome and willingness to compromise are abilities that take many years to acquire. Educators are essential to the development of these competencies in young people. Citizens actively participating in public life must master the skill of civil discourse—the ability to listen patiently to competing arguments, assess them on their merits, and ask questions and express opinions calmly. The guiding inquiry is always which candidate or policy outcome will best serve the common good, the good from which each individual benefits as a member of the community. Civil discourse is critical to freedom, for the alternative to rational discussion among equal citizens is coercion, arbitrary rule and tyranny. The importance of civil discourse is a recurring theme in the writings of the American founders and statesmen, including James Madison and Abraham Lincoln, who understood the fragility of “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”