Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Changing your words and actions can change your world


The opening comment on the ACCoRD Project’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/theaccordproject) asks the following questions for thought: “What has happened to disagreeing with each other in a civil manner? When has name calling become a standard response to something we do not like to hear? Discussion and disagreement are part of our democracy, however name calling and personal attacks are not. Just turn on the news and, on a daily basis, one can witness the lack of cooperation, respect and personal dignity in our current political environment. Civility will only improve if we collectively make it understood that we will not tolerate incivility.

What are your thoughts?”

“Change your words. Change your world.” That’s a powerful thought. They aren’t my words, I saw them on a Facebook video: A blind man was sitting on a mat, begging for coins. He had a sign that read: “I’m blind, please help.” A few people dropped money on his mat, which he eagerly collected.

Then a woman came along, read the sign and picked it up and started writing. The man felt her shoes. He wondered what she was doing, but said nothing.

More people who passed dropped more and more coins. Later in the day, the woman came by again. He knew it was her because he felt the same shoes.

“What did you write?” he asked.

“I wrote the same, but different words,” she replied, smiled and walked on. What did she write that caused so many more people to respond in a caring way?

“It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”

Change your words. Change your world. The same can be applied to how words are spoken and how we treat others.

We teach our children to respect others; to show dignity; kindness; to be civil and to cooperate. How can children learn to do these things if the leaders in local communities, state and federal governments do not follow these simple rules of etiquette?

The ACCoRD Project (Advocating for Civility, Cooperation, Respect and Dignity) is endeavoring to bring back civility in public forums, in the media and from political leaders. This bipartisan group held its first educational meeting on March 9 with more than 25 people in attendance. In her opening introduction to the group, co-founder Bonnie Friedman shared three truths the ACCoRD Project professes:

When you believe something is wrong, doing anything about it, no matter how small, is better than doing nothing.

We need strong leaders and they should be role models who guide the public in the right direction with humility, integrity, respect and dignity; and be able to weigh important options and collaborate with others for the common good. They should be statesmen who put country before party.

There should be a return to honest news reporting rather than making the news entertainment or sensationalism that doesn’t benefit our country.

Following Friedman, Dr. Teri Fine spoke to the group about the first amendment—the right to free speech. It was an eye-opener to all. She explained what free speech entails, and that it is a very “fuzzy” matter—it isn’t all clear-cut, black and white.

Quoting The Orlando Sentinel’s Miss Manners, Fine stated “the right to free speech is not an excuse for spewing nastiness.”

In light of the rudeness of political candidates, how can one be polite without being politically correct? Fine explained that there are rules of the game, and in any arena of debate—whether it is in Congress, the courtrooms or on the athletic fields—there are still rules against name-calling and abusive language, and the requirement of respect shown to your opponent.

It seems that in today’s arena of political boxing, to defend freedom of speech is to defend vulgarity, rudeness, and even hate-talk.

The ACCoRD Project invites anyone to join who would like to be involved in helping to bring about changes in the way people interact with others; to return to a more civil and respectful approach to debate and cooperation.

Visit their Facebook page to learn more about this group.


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