Communication is key for any two individuals to reach a common understanding and belief. So it only makes sense that the same is applied to an entire society. Large groups of people need communication to not only exchange ideas and thoughts, but also for conflict resolution, problem-solving, and establishing a paradigm on which that society will live on and function. Civil discourse is the best tool for a society to do just that. It is with civil discourse that communication can take place in a calm, calculated, and collective approach. Whether it’s through debate, open floor discussions, dialogue, or negotiating, civil discourse is important if the goal is to reach a common ground in a civilized way.
That is the premise in which civil discourse is carried out. The word civil is the keyword that one needs to focus on when going about the entire process. It’s easy for extremist rhetoric to seep into conversations and take over the entire communication process. Very often throughout history, we’ve seen examples of dialogue being broken down because of the refusal for one party to renege on a certain belief or opinion. Even countries in global dialogue have seen entire negotiations falter because of the heightened stakes and clinging on to interests and concerns.
Civil discourse is not limited to just societies of people but also to large-scale governmental discussion. However, it is with these societies people living amongst one another in communities and cities that we the how potent the effects of civil discourse are. For instance, civil discourse is regularly practiced at council meetings looking to pass new laws or legislation that will affect the entirety of a city or town. Governors regularly discuss and negotiate matters with their constituents that are represented by a group of individuals. This is how civil discourse dictates the state of a society. If the discourse is healthy and productive, then the chances are that the society lives in peaceful and cohesive existence.
People need to realize the importance of this and resort to such a methodology sooner than later. As things stand, people will opt for protests over discourse as a first resort crisis response. Protests can be effective at mounting pressure against the involved parties. However, protesting alone is often unclear and very unorganized. There needs to be clear communication that sets out the concerns of the individuals involved and what they want the resolution to be. That is the only way that a resolution can be reached, by clearly identifying the problem, and then working out the solution.
Civil discourse is the best chance at doing just that because it relies on one key component, and that is the act of being civil. Once people are civil, then -and only then- can true discourse take place, and resolutions can be made. Until then, it will be time wasted, and further sinking into division and decay, as uncertainties mount, and communication is broken, leaving doubt in many minds if co-existing is possible or not.