Civility and Evasive Thinking

The calls for ‘civility’ echo something that Václav Havel called “evasive thinking.” He opens his essay on the topic with the story of a woman who was killed by a fallen window ledge from a neglected building. This led to a spontaneous wave of outrage regarding these conditions.

 

An article on the topic, the equivalent of our current ‘hot takes,’ began by saying that of course window ledges should not fall and that it was entirely proper for the people to criticize such things. He then goes on to rattle of a list of good things that happened.

 

“This rather graphic example of the achievements of our time ultimately led him to ask whether there wasn’t after all, just a little too much criticism, and he appealed to us not to limit ourselves to what he called local matters, but to focus on themes that were more worthy…”

 

Havel’s response: