We are so fortunate to live in Siouxland. The greatest majority of us are thoughtful, polite and reasonable, just to name a few positive characteristics of people in our community.
Over the past several weeks I've had conversations about civility and manners with friends and colleagues concerned that we as a country no longer know what those words mean. Unfortunately, we have witnessed events in some places this year in which people have turned wild, destroyed statues and monuments, and ruined the businesses of innocent, hard-working Americans that provide a source of employment for so many.
Our forefathers gave us the right of freedom of speech. We are fortunate to live in a country with that right. My friends and colleagues and I have discussed how proud we were of people who participated in the protest march in Sioux City earlier this summer. The protesters said what they wanted to say and did not allow violence. Because they stopped those who wanted to be destructive, their message was heard.
When protests became violent and destructive in some cities, the message got lost and the focus was no longer on the points the serious protesters wanted to make - instead, it was on the violence and destruction. The attention was stolen by those who only wanted an excuse to be criminal. They acted like anarchists.
Many people lost their jobs and their businesses or place of employment because buildings were burned to the ground. Storefronts were demolished because rioters were not there to protest, they were there to steal and rob their own neighbors of merchandise. That is not civil, it is not freedom of speech, it is purely unlawful.
Freedom of speech is when people express their opinion in a civil manner when they have a point to make, a demand to make, a message to deliver. Once civility is lost, people stop listening to the message.
It's frightening to me when people in leadership allow out-of-control, unlawful people to riot and destroy private and public property and the livelihoods of lawful citizens. Riots and destruction were not about a cause, they were about trying to destroy the fabric of our country.
Do I believe all people should be treated with respect? Yes. Also, I believe it is important to treat others as we want to be treated, it's the golden rule. Overall, there seems to be a huge void of manners and civility in this country today. We need to get back to being respectful of people in authority whether it is a teacher, principal, parent, officeholder, or law enforcement, to name a few examples. My experience has been that in being civil and respectful, my views are heard. The other person may not agree with me totally, but we are able to compromise and have a better result. Conflict or disagreement is not bad when people are civil and respectful of one another.
No one person has the answers to everything. We come from different "walks of life," we have different experiences, and that gives us different perspectives. That causes each of us to have insights that vary from one another, which is an opportunity to mold thoughts into one better way to overcome a disagreement and have better results.
Some of my friends believe there is too much violence and lack of respect for people in the television programs and movies we watch. The same goes for many video games - people become desensitized. I believe it would make a positive difference if the makers of video games, television programs and movies were held to a much higher standard and cut out the violence and the disrespect.
Bottom line: We will be a much better, stronger nation if we all work together to find solutions for how to improve respect, manners and civility.
Charese Yanney of Sioux City is owner and managing partner of Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. She serves on the Siouxland Initiative Executive Committee, the Orpheum Theatre Preservation Board, the Orpheum Theatre Endowment Board and the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission.
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