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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The agony of civility

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 14:36:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Agony is the state of suffering experienced by a very sick person as death approaches. It has been considered as the last phase of life. It also has another meaning: struggle and combat (between life and death), which is what this article refers to.

Civility is "unconditional adherence not to the State, but to the common good; hence, one of the civic duties is to oppose political measures that are deemed harmful to it" (Restituto Sierra Bravo, 1997). (Restituto Sierra Bravo, 1997). It comprises a set of values and duties proper to the citizen manager. It is currently going through a strong crisis that, in some countries, is agonizing. This is worrying, because it is a basic dimension of the Education that should be instilled in all human beings from an early age in the family and at school.

Rare is the day when the media in our country does not broadcast news about incivility behavior, mainly by adolescents and young people. Perhaps the most worrying thing is the social tolerance of these behaviors and the habituation to them.

In my opinion, the problem has different causes. One of them is the individualistic, permissive and consumerist society, which emerged after the arrival of postmodernism, taking away the value of reason and will and giving it to desire. The individualistic attitude also affected the family, which in many cases lost its unitary and supportive character.

In ancient cultures it was the whole tribe (parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, uncles, older brothers) who introduced children into society, while nowadays only the parents do it, and not all of them, nor always. Much worse still is to give children bad examples, as can be seen in the following news item: "In the match between Diocesanos and Boscos de Avila with 7-year-old children, the parents of the losing team jumped onto the field to attack the referee and the other parents. The players, very frightened, burst into tears." (14- 5- 2018)

A cartoon by Ferrán refers to this problem. A father enters a sports facility accompanied by two young children and they find a notice: "Physical and verbal violence is forbidden on the premises.

-Is it a ban for the players," asks the father.

-No, it's for the parents," answers one of the sons.

A second cause of the problem is to consider preparation for civic life as just another subject , forgetting that it is not based on content but on values: loyalty, truthfulness, solidarity, altruism, responsibility, etc. These values are acquired throughout the socialization process by carrying out activities in favorable situations. For example, the same status of accompanying young children to play a soccer game can be an excellent opportunity to stimulate civic attitudes in them through good parental example: self-control, respect, cordiality, etc.

Civics learning should be subject participatory, based on the activity of student and in a context that allows its exercise.

Some press reports mention the only supposed solution that is being given to incivism from the institutions: municipal ordinances that establish economic sanctions for each behavior, after being denounced by the municipal police. But this measure, by itself, is proving ineffective and, moreover, does not serve to awaken positive attitudes towards civility. For example, this news: "Tough hand of the Guardia Urbana de Reus. Making botellón and urinating in the street, the most sanctioned uncivic acts." (3-10-2019). For the professor of Social Anthropology Javier Campos, civility only makes sense when it is freely assumed; it is a set of attitudes that are proposed and learned, not imposed.

Learning civility requires, above all, the involvement and partnership of citizens, as expressed in this news item:

"Damage due to vandalism causes the City Council of Logroño an extra expense of more than 500,000 euros. Damages in parks and gardens, cleaning of graffiti on walls and street furniture and cleaning of areas where the botellón takes place, as well as the breaking of containers. It has been order that all citizens are involved in solving the problem" (20-2-2018).

Uncivic behaviors are avoidable with preventive measures from subject educational . Civic behavior does not develop simply with instruction; it requires mainly internalization of social values and civic virtues from an early age, following a plan of civic training , which is an aspect of moral training . The civic training in the family relies above all on the example of parents, who should be exemplary citizens.