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  • Return to Civility: A Speed of Laughter Project
    Return to Civility: A Speed of Laughter Project
    by John Sweeney, The Brave New Workshop

Re-posted: How Would You Make the World More Civil?

In 2008, John Sweeney and the employees of the Brave New Workshop theatre wrote Return to Civility: A Speed of Laughter Project out of a desire to positively impact as many people as we mildly offend with our social and political satire. Whether in all seriousness or in laughter, we hope you will join us in helping to increase the civility of our world.


Reader Comments (29)

I was sitting next to the nicest kid from the U of M Rugby team on an airplane the other day. (And yes, I realize that by calling him a kid, I am officially making myself 1,000 years old.) He introduced himself and asked my name, he asked questions about where I was going, and not in an Eddie Haskell way, either. Half way through the flight, he asked the person behind him if was alright to recline his seat. What a great idea. And I realized I would never do that. Not because I don't care if it bothers the person behind me (although, honestly, sometimes I don't) but because I would be too awkward to just lean back and ask someone a question.

It made me think of civility in a slightly different light. Not just "quit doing jerky things" but also, "talk to people". I am often too, what's the word, "shy"
.I suppose. maybe "socially awkward" would be more to the point to strike up conversations or just have basic human interaction with strangers you meet on airplanes or in grocery store lines, etc.

Some of it is generational. My parents talk to EVERYBODY, whether they like it or not. My father is a pretty quiet guy, but he will strike up a conversation with the guy next to him at the counter of any restaurant he goes into (and that's a lot of restaurants.) Some of it is (sorry Minnesota) regional. I think people up here are a little more frosty (pardon the pun) to strangers. We drive down to Missouri on a regular basis, and the further south you get (and I'm talking Iowa, not the Mississippi Delta) the more you find yourself in conversations with check out people and folks in line with you at the Mc Donald's.

I'll probably still be super socially awkward in the future, but at least I'll give it a second thought. THanks, U of M Rugby kid whose name I forgot. Thanks.

January 16, 2009 | Registered CommenterCivil Thoughts

Try to make eye contact with road / construction workers. I'm talking about the guys out there that have to direct traffic in and around road work. It seems like a thankless job. Lately when encountering these folks, I'm trying to make eye contact with them, smile or wave. . . for a couple of reasons. First, in a practical way, I think it might help them know that you saw them and you're not going to run them over or blast through. And second, and more important, perhaps it gives them a little sense that what they're doing is helpful. I would hate that job and I'm glad I don't have it. I'm glad someone else will do it. I'm sure a lot of folks treat them as if they're an annoyance, so why not counter - balance by doing the opposite. They are trying to fix the roads, by the way. I don't want to be out there with a jackhammer and bucket of tar.

January 16, 2009 | Registered CommenterCivil Thoughts

When you are waiting at a light, and it turns to green, remember that there are cars behind you trying to make t through the light and get through it as fast as you can while being safe
Civil Being

January 16, 2009 | Registered CommenterCivil Thoughts

Take time to teach a child something (bake, sew, paint). Who cares if they make a mess - it won't take that long to clean it up, but the child will remember it (and you) with fondness for a long time. And let a child teach you something......all you have to do is listen. You might find out how the stars really did get stuck way up there in the sky.

January 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

If you live in a neighborhood where lots of people walk their dogs by your house, leave a bowl of cool water out for the pooches, especially on hot days.

January 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebra

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