The Soul of Civility

With Alexandra Hudson

From classical philosophers like Epictetus, to great 20th century thinkers like Martin Luther King Jr., to her own experience working in the federal government during a particularly politically fraught era, Alexandra Hudson examines how civility―a respect for the personhood and dignity of others―transcends political disagreements. Respecting someone means valuing them enough to tell them when you think they are wrong.

It’s easy to look at the divided state of the world and blame our leaders, the media, or our education system. Hudson says that instead, we should focus on what we can control: ourselves. She argues that includes living tolerantly with others despite deep differences, but still rigorously protesting wrongs and debating issues rather than silencing disagreements. Since a robust public discourse is essential to a truly civil society, and since respecting others means telling hard truths, if enough of us decide to change ourselves, we might be able to change the world we live in too. And that is the difference between politeness―a superficial appearance of good manners―and true civility.