Recently, in one of many interviews about the National Citizen’s Inquiry, my husband, Ken Drysdale, used a phrase that struck me and stuck with me. The phrase was, a “thin veil of civility “.
The Thin Veil of Civility
He was referring to what we all, to varying degrees, observed happen to society during the COVID-19 “outbreak”. His suggestion was that our society’s activities, it’s standards, morals, priorities, pressures and interactions, everything that perpetuates and sustains its movement, was in reality, contained by a very thin veil, thinner than we may have anticipated, of civility. Almost as though, through a veil, we had a semblance of civility and when that thin veil was punctured, what truly lay beneath, was revealed.
Many of us were surprised at how quickly Society became truly uncivil, very quickly indeed, when provoked with the situation suddenly thrust upon the world. The levels of unkindness and cruelty we experienced and heard about were truly shocking.
Several months ago I purchased Dr. Naomi Wolf’s new book “The Bodies of Others” and coincidentally, a few days ago, I finally had a chance to start reading it. She is a great thinker and writer. I highly recommend this book!
In her introductory comments, Dr. Wolf states, “…My focus is on how this ongoing war against us is far more basic, aimed at nothing less than dissolving the meaning of humanity itself and undoing of the rich cultural legacy we in the West have long treasured and passed on to succeeding generations.” Dr. Naomi Wolf (pg 2). She goes on the ask, “What is our culture, which we once thought durable….?”
This reminded me of Ken’s observation of our society having a “thin veil of civility”. Why was that, in fact, the case? Why, so quickly, did the societal congeniality and grace that we thought we had, evaporate almost overnight?
This is a big question with many possibilities to rightly consider, and one that, for many years to come, will be discussed.
Next we began to discover that the government was essentially deciding what, in our society, they sanctioned as necessary, essential, and effectively, of value. They put themselves in the position of indirectly (or perhaps directly) communicating that they had the authority to decide who was essential. We found out, that most of us were considered NON essential, or more definitively, NOT necessary.
The obvious attack and agenda to dismantle all things “community” ie. churches, community centers , schools, family gatherings, small retail outlets, and businesses (mom and pop shops), restaurants, athletic events, concerts, and more. All these places were where people come together to find community and connection with other humans. People were even prevented from being present at the bedside of dying loved ones.
But wait! Liquor stores, cannabis stores, huge box stores, large grocery chains, drug stores and some health services were permitted to remain open.
What is my point and what does this have to do with that thin veil of civility?
In a healthy, functioning society , community is everything.
When community activities and priorities begin to wane, so does our appreciation and need for our fellow human beings. This can happen ever so slowly, insidiously, and almost unrecognizably, but over time, the effects of this erosion of the fabric of our society, takes its toll.
Going forward, we must nurture, guard, and protect community connections. This is the only way to insure the growth and strength in our society to prevail against the separations that erode us, divide us and make us vulnerable to living under a “thin veil of civility”.
Why is community of such integral value for humanity?
Because we survive and thrive on the exchange of ideas and interactions with fellow human beings. In order to be free we simply must have the uninhibited ability to communicate and pursue relationships. For example asking questions to stimulate discussion is the most basic tenant of communication.
(Also, isn’t that what actual science is supposed to be? Asking honest, open, and searching questions which are authentically pursuant of the ascertaining of truth?)
Therefore right now and from now on, we simply cannot release one ounce of pressure in our pursuit of community. It is a safety valve for the civility of our society.
After what we have all been through, it is easy to slip into complacency, thinking that the storm has passed but nothing could be further from the truth. It may seem like we are back to “business as usual” but that is most certainly is not the case!
Do not be fooled!
We simply must, under and through all circumstances, throw our whole selves into holding the line of building community. We cannot, must not, give up because the cost is not only high, the cost is everything.
We must not only agree with the concept of community, we must be ardent advocates, facilitators, and participants of community, everywhere and anywhere we can. It is of the essence to the survival of society.
The importance of Manitoba Stronger Together focus on building community cannot be overemphasized. MTS is reinstating and reenforcing the importance of community, and the irreplaceable importance of YOU, the individual within the community. YOU are, in fact, not only essential, you are the MOST essential.
Simply stated: Isolated human beings are disempowered human beings. United human beings are empowered human beings. Empowered human beings in a strong and healthy community keep society civilized.