Choosing Civility by Dr. P.M. Forni

Choosing Civility by Dr. P.M. Forni:

"1. Pay Attention
'A human moment occurs anytime two or more people are together, paying attention to one another.'
—Edward M. Hallowell

'The principal form that the work of love takes is attention.'
—M. Scott Peck

Several middle schoolers are walking down the hall. They are laughing, they are teasing one another, and they are loud. As they walk by a closed classroom door, one of them does the unexpected. Only a few seconds ago she seemed oblivious to anything but the microcosm of her giggling peers. But now, as she glances at the closed door, the thought that a class or an exam may be taking place behind it flashes through her mind. Immediately she lowers her voice and hastens to hush her friends.

A small act? Yes, but an impressive one nonetheless. First, the young woman managed to see in her mind's eye what may have been happening beyond the closed door; then, she was able to imagine the discomfort that her group's noisemaking could cause; finally, she was willing to act upon her empathic imagination. This complex process, however, could not have started had she not been aware of her surroundings. She could be considerate because she was paying attention.

Without attention, no meaningful interaction is possible. Our first responsibility, when we are with others, is to pay attention"