ISBN: 1-4259-5893-1: 1-4259-5894-X
The central themes of T.S. Bogorad's, The Importance of Civility, are succinctly summed up in the book's introduction wherein it is stated: "what we don't say may hurt us and our community, and our polite interaction with others strengthens us and our community."
Bogorad observes that the assets of our communities suffer and may even deteriorate when we fail to socially interact. Consequently, we must modify our perspectives pertaining to our need of community, our need for civility and our need for each other. As the author points out, this can only come about if we understand how important it is to contribute to our communities through the use of smiles and courtesies, fostering social interaction and discouraging isolation, reducing victimization, increasing our listening and our laughter skills, and encouraging "other awareness" through civil/courteous/polite conduct. We also must become aware of the significance of sharing responsibilities associated with our communities through cooperation and communication. As mentioned, "when we isolate ourselves from our community or when we reduce the number of social interactions, our lack of social interactions diminishes our community's social capital." In the absence of effective and constructive social interactions, members of a community tend to look to other forms of self-satisfaction such as alcohol, gambling, and random shopping.
The informative quality of Bogorad's writing does more than explain the importance of civility and without doubt the information contained will provoke a great deal of substantive thought. In fact, Bogorad helps us along by providing us at the conclusion of each chapter brief sentences reminding us of the important principles expounded upon as well as various dictums and proverbs to ponder about.
One of the author's more interesting discussions pertains to the concept of social cannibalism which exists as a result of the ever growing absence of social interactions and the simultaneous increase in the number of socially isolated people. The resulting effect is the erosion of our communities in a number of ways such as turning victims into abusers in order that they may feel power or by permitting bystanders to watch cheating, corruption and abuse without accountability for their failure to protect the community and its members.
Presenting big ideas or universal themes is always a challenge and one of the keys to effectively presenting your case is convincing the reader that what you are writing about has been firmly grounded in research. Bogorad passes the test with flying colors with her sheer depth of research as evidenced by the extensive endnotes and bibliography that back up her findings and that focus beyond her own personal perspectives. In addition, she has effectively captured this elusive subject in a way that readers are inspired with the confidence that Bogorad feels the truth of her convictions, physically, emotionally and spiritually.