Speak no ill. Listen. Apologize sincerely.
These and other such adages are the mantras of our mothers, resonating through our childhood years, as they worked to mold us into well-behaved adults. Just plain common courtesy, as they say.
But sadly, the precepts of courtesy, of civility, just aren't as common as we would hope.
For the third year, the Stanislaus County Office of Education will champion the Choose Civility Initiative along with local school districts, nearly 250 business partners and countless student ambassadors.
The normal run for an initiative in this county office is two years, but we decided to extend Choose Civility into a third year.
Perhaps the most encouraging outcome of the initiative thus far is that it is moving beyond Stanislaus County. We know of seven other counties that have indicated they are moving forward to adopt their own initiatives modeled after ours.
As other county offices have picked up their own Civility Campaigns, and as requests for assistance, materials and keynote speaking engagements continue to roll in, we realize we are not ready to launch this initiative into independence yet. So, here comes year three.
Today marks the beginning of Choose Civility Week, an early October rally around the critical issue of how we treat one other.
This week, the county Office of Education will host the artwork of local elementary students who have depicted civility through drawings and sketches. The winners of this contest will be recognized at the International Festival at the Gallo Center on Saturday, and their artwork featured in upcoming issues of The Bee. Currently, all of this artwork is on display at the county office, 1100 H St., Modesto, so please come by to see it.
On Wednesday, interested middle and high school teachers will develop a rubric for students to gauge thecivility of our local, state, and national politicians as they run for office pitting their principles, philosophies and promises against one another. Perhaps the election year provides the best opportunity to rethink civility as we watch national and local politicians vie for office. What kind of models will they be?
I believe that civility is a defining value of a healthy, vibrant community. Quality of life depends in great part on how community members treat each other.
Integrating the civility principles into the culture of government, businesses, organizations, schools, neighborhoods and families is the priority of this initiative. It's imperative for the future that our children see us modeling civil behavior.
So join us once again as we focus on civility. Let us do business with courtesy and kindness. Let's remember that it is all about relationships and relationships are built on the way we interact with each other. It is a choice, and we hope you will choose civility.
Changnon is Stanislaus County superintendent of schools.
'CHOOSE CIVILITY' PRINCIPLES
Respect other people's time
Don't shift responsibility and blame
Accept and give praise
Respect others' opinions
Refrain from idle complaints
Think the best
Accept and give constructive criticism
Don't speak ill
BECOME A PARTNER
To stay up-to-date on the initiative, "Like" Choose Civility on Facebook, and become an advocate or a partner at www.stancoe.org/civility.