More than half the people on Earth now live in cities and are becoming more tuned in with the need to share housing, transit, and knowledge. Creative urban leaders are calling for collaboration on some of the problems of our times. For example, there's Carl Luna, a professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College and director of the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement at the University of San Diego. In this speech reprinted at, he recalls that schools used to teach the skills that make for dramatic and fulfilling engagement with the community. But now, it is a different ballgame:

"Our students leave school able to digitally communicate with thumb and index finger on a phone or tablet but not in face-to-face dialogue with their follow corporeal citizens."

Luna laments the mass media's failure to positively model civic discourse or to consistently share stories of people sacrificing for the common good.
The Institute for Civil Civic Engagement will try to make people aware of the problems incivility causes in our pursuit of the public good. It will develop programs and curricula targeted for K-12 and post-secondary institutions. The hope is that students will restore civility to public discourse and become responsible San Diego citizens.

In his thought-provoking book In Defense of Civility, James Calvin Davis challenges religious communities to model civility and to enrich political discourse in America.

"When we take the time to listen patiently to and learn from another, we are in a greater position to exercise mutual respect for one another. . . . Civility requires that in the midst of our most meaningful and intractable disagreements, we still extend the courtesy of respect. This means more than avoiding demonizing one another, as is so common in our public debates. It also means respecting each other's right to represent moral worldviews in public. It means not disqualifying your neighbor from the conversation or dismissing his views as unimportant because he is conservative, or liberal, or religious, or not. Civility requires that, even if I think you are tragically mistaken, I honor your right to participate in the American enterprise of public moral conversation."

Given the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., and the continuing debasement of dialogue through negative ads and squawk journalism, this is the right time to try and make some changes in how we talk to each other.

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