In Praise of Civility

James W. Heisig

Wipf & Stock. 136 pages

Through telling stories about civility, this little book aims to provoke second thoughts about the effects of incivility on our lives and the lives of those around us. As short quips of moral outrage overtake more and more of our “civilized” conversations, the slow plod of thinking and acting civilly is easily left behind like a quaint and simpleminded distraction from the business of standing up for ourselves and our convictions. This is what the author wishes to turn on its head through examples of civility in action and the encouragement of “collective thinking” in which civility flowers.

 “No book could be timelier than this. As raconteur, James Heisig evokes memorable incidents showing how people can react surprisingly and creatively to one another (and even to animals) in situations of tension or conflict. As philosopher, he shows how each of these incidents subverts the predictable habits of calculation and negativity that narrow our vision and diminish our humanity.” (Joseph S. O’Leary)
 “These seven engaging, learned chapters—seven untimely meditations on our present cynisism—call us from evasion and abstraction to look again at everyday life, where what is first and best quite often happens already before we close our eyes to it.” (Jeffrey Bloechl)
 “This gem of a book is itself an example of civility. Its refreshing stories teach us how to see civility as it happens right before our eyes, and we learn how to relax and respond to tense, everyday situations in ways that let us and all those we encounter flourish together.” (John C. Maraldo)

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