Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Civility in Government

One of the recurring themes of God and Governing, a Conference on Virtue Ethics and Statesmanship was civility. All of the speakers mentioned the need for civility in politics and government. Os Guinness specifically spoke at length on the role of civility in the dispute over how our freedom of religion and freedom from establishment of religion should play out in the public square. He advocated a "civil public square" as opposed to a sacred public square or a secular public square.

After the conference, my friend Marc brought up an interesting idea. Everyone had mentioned the need for civility at the same time as we advocate zealously for different ideas and points of view. Marc noted that the old fashioned civility of Common Law Lawyers of the past and many lawyers still today is a good model for the handling of conflict in a civil and civilized way. While I have run into very uncivil lawyers, and occasionally should have been more willing to have lunch with my opponent's counsel my self, it is true that the tradition of the bar is one of civility, especially outside the courtroom. It is a model for how things should be.

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