Why Can’t We Be Friends? ‘Civility Please’ Initiative Urges Decency in Daily Life

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Cheering friends watching television

In this era of political vitriol and pop culture faux pas, a new campaign begs us to coexist rationally.

Following the shootings in Tucson, pundits and politicians urged a change in the national discussion. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik noted to the country on live television. It was a bold statement, but certainly not a far-fetched one. And it comes down to the little things. We may fire off an angry email without thinking twice or shoot down a coworker’s idea with a nasty comment. But this just results in bruised egos and hurt feelings. But now, a new campaign is urging: “Civility, Please!

(More on TIME.com: See Tom Brokaw’s thoughts on our uncivil society.)

“We’re hoping the decent people will tell the jerks to stop it,” campaign director Patrick Adams tells NewsFeed. Adams hatched the plan with his ad agency, Secret Weapon Marketing – a campaign that was in the works long before the events in Arizona. “I think it’s easy to link it to big ideas like Tucson, but it runs the spectrum,” he says, right down to our everyday lives. The little changes can add up to a big difference, the initiative’s creators hope.

It’s about thinking before we speak or act, and not being so quick to fire back a retort. “It’s not about trying to get everybody to agree on something – but we at least want them to be civil in their discussion about what they disagree on,” Adams says.

(More on TIME.com: See the Dalai Lama’s thoughts on peace.)

But can Civility Please truly inspire us to tone down the trash talk? Sometimes it just feels so good to let off some steam. It’s a simple message that might be hard to wrap your head around. But it’s worth a thought – an effort – in our daily lives. The campaign even asks nicely: please?

And NewsFeed will leave you with some inspirational words of our own, courtesy of Bill and Ted: “Be excellent to each other.”

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