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Thread: Being Civil

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    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Being Civil

    During a century ride last year, I did a double-take when I saw a semi-famous person I recognized on the ride. It was L. Paul Bremer, the guy who oversaw the U.S. occupation of Iraq after the invasion in 2003. Trying NOT to get political here, but suffice it to say that I may have a few disagreements with the gentleman about the way the Iraq occupation was handled, let alone if we should have been there in the first place. But I actually was tempted to go over and make a few snide comments to him. Not proud of that, but it's true.

    On last week's Civil War Century at the first rest stop I was looking at the posted ride map with somebody. He was asking about the battle of South Mountain, and when he got oriented on the map, pointed out the route Lee took during his invasion of MD and PA in 1863. We chatted a bit about the route.

    Then I looked over and saw that I was actually talking with Mr. Bremer. I felt like a d*ck frankly for the way I reacted to seeing him last year. It was the day before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We were on a bike route tracing the most horrendous intra-American fighting that has ever taken place, on our way to the battlefield at Gettysburg.

    I felt thankful that for as much as we can and should disagree with each other, we can still remain civil. I'm glad on that day at least the "better angels of our nature" prevailed, for me at least, and I hope I remember that lesson in the future.
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    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    I read a bunch of books on the war (critical) and naturally have forgotten much of what I read. I somehow was left with he impression that Bremer wasn't one of the worst but got stuck with the policy. Am I right about that or was he the guy who "fired" the Iraqi army (that move sounded insane at the time and proved to be so)? Regardless, I think it is true that most people are well intentioned regardless of the outcome of their thoughts/actions. Better to treat him with respect after the fact and argue when it could still make a difference.
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

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    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Bremer lived close by my home. He had a lot of friends/neighbors that drove blacked-out SUV's. I am not sure if he moved or what but the commotion seems to have ended a while ago.
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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    +1

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    My grandmother would have slapped me upside the head if she ever heard of me not being civil, even to those I may loathe. She used to say, "You may not be able to do anything about how you feel about someone, but you can do something about how you act around them."
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

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    Nicely put. Many times we find ourselves in situations where we all want the same result but see weigh the prospects of success for different actions differently. It doesn't make anyone evil, just different. For a Bike Forums example just mosey over to A&S and watch the rage between the Copenhagenistas and those who think we don't need extensive off-street paths. Both groups clearly want to get people cycling more and driving less, but they have come to different conclusions regarding how to get that done.

    Slightly off-topic: I'm not so sure the Civil War was the most horrendous intra-American fighting. We slaughtered an awful lot of First Americans during the first few centuries of colonization/nationhood.

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    I was having lunch in Zimbabwe this year. A nice gentleman in a suit stopped by and introduced himself. He asked about my class ring from Vanderbilt. He then mentioned that he received his PhD from Syracuse. He is currently the Minister of Education in Zimbabwe. I wanted to tell him he was a failure because Zimbabwe at one time had the highest literacy rate in Africa. Now children can't afford to go to school and the literacy rate for young people in Zimbabwe is terrible.

    He was so nice that I would have felt badly if I had told him my real assessment.

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    Señor Blues on the path's Avatar
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    Jim, it doesn't matter what you thought or what you were tempted to do. The fact is that you didn't speak your mind and you didn't act out your feelings. At another time it may have been appropriate, but in that moment you did the right thing.

    I believe you shouldn't feel bad for what you were thinking. We are all judgmental of others. What we do or say, or not, is what determines our level of civility, and frankly, the amount of wisdom we have acquired.

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    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    The great thing about America is being able to share opinions and then accept people even though we disagree with their convictions. Being a Melting Pot doesn't destroy the individuality, it recognizes that we are all in the same pot. And we need to be good to each other, the days do come when we are on a ride and need a tube or chain link and the guy we just reamed out is the only one with a spare.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

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    I often wonder where civil and polite leaves off? It may depend on how deeply someone has offended you or the ones you love. While crawling through the jungel of Viet Nam I might have been offended by Jane Fonda sitting on a North Vietnamese Ack-Ack *** pointing it in my direction. Can one be civil and even polite while not helping such a person with a flat or loaning them a master link? Just food for thought.

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    Great conversation. Interesting perspectives. I love grandma's approach to others.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Great quote from the cofounder of a company for which I used to work: "I have to earn your respect, but I can demand your courtesy." A little tact goes a long way ...
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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    invisible friend seenoweevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    My grandmother would have slapped me upside the head if she ever heard of me not being civil, even to those I may loathe. She used to say, "You may not be able to do anything about how you feel about someone, but you can do something about how you act around them."
    Civility and common courtesy are rapidly on the decline, IMO.
    Faster than a sundial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
    But I actually was tempted to go over and make a few snide comments to him. Not proud of that, but it's true.
    It might be worthwhile for you to consider your own motivation. For purposes of argument, let's assume his policies were mistaken. Given that, what exactly is the point of snide remarks about his policies 8 years ago?

    1. He will realize that your are correct, jump into a time machine, go back and change his policies?
    2. He suddenly comes to a realization that you should have been in charge in Iraq, instead of him? Then he jumps in a time machine with you, and ...
    3. He can't change the past, but he will know that you are smarter than he is?


    It seems to me that there are three good reasons to remonstrate with someone about their behavior:

    1. They ask you to evaluate their behavior.
    2. They may agree with you and change their current behavior.
    3. They may agree with you and change their future behavior.


    For the second to be true, the behavior can't be in the past, because no one can change the past.

    For the third to be valid, there must be a reasonable belief that they will repeat the behavior if you say nothing. If they are not likely to have the opportunity to repeat the behavior, then there's not much point in remonstrating with them. I think that it's pretty clear that Mr. Bremer is not going to have an opportunity to supervise Iraq immediately after an American invasion ever again.

    For the second or third to be valid, I have to be pretty sure that the person hasn't heard what I am about to say from me or anyone else - if I am pretty sure that they have heard what I am about to say hundreds of times, and or they have already read it in print, then what is the point of my remonstration?

    My guess is that if you look deeply enough, you'll find that at the bottom of your motivation, there's an ego barking, "I'm right and you're wrong."

    And that's a silly motivation.

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