Hamline News

A Stand for Civility

Dear Members of the Hamline Community,

Like many of you, I watched the events that occurred in our nation’s capital on Wednesday with dismay. I was saddened to see hordes of people scaling walls, smashing windows, and desecrating the Halls of Congress, all in a misguided attempt to subvert democracy.

You would have to go back over 200 years to find the last time the nation’s capital suffered the kind of damage it sustained Wednesday, or when our democratic system came under such an attack. But unlike that long-ago occurrence, when Washington D.C. was besieged by foreign army, this damage was caused by our own citizens.

The reasons given for the riots do not stand up to reasonable scrutiny, but are a gross violation of a concept we are addressing here at Hamline—civility. For quite some time, we have seen a lack of civility, in the form of extremism, rather than informed and respectful debate about the issues we face today. Unfortunately, it often takes tragedy and unimaginable acts to remind us what can happen when civility is overpowered by rage.

Hamline University stands for civility. Our disagreements may be profound but we must never stoop to the level we have recently seen. American history is replete with examples of political compromise—some for the good, some not. But without the ability to talk calmly and rationally with each other, no progress is possible.

As we prepare to gather for the spring term, I ask you to please re-read the new Civility Statement and use it as the rule and guide to our conduct as we work to build a better world.

We can be right without being self-righteous. We can disagree without being disagreeable. The beauty of civil discourse is that in the end, the best ideas win. In that light, let us use the alarm bell of Wednesday as a way to show, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently phrased it, “the better angels of our nature.”


Fayneese Miller, PhD