I poured out my feelings about the Tucson tragedy here. Since then, understandably, we've heard many pleas for civility in public discourse. A civility institute has even been established. These are needed and important. But for democracy to survive and thrive, we must learn to practice nonviolent means of engagement that are vigorous and intellectually rigorous rather than merely "nice." That includes embracing controversy constructively as a leadership and social skill.
I teach and speak about the 7 C's of Controversy, lessons I learned on the frontlines of movement leadership. Contact me any time if you'd like to explore the topic in greater detail and consider bringing me to talk to your group. From Tahrir Square to the U. S. Congress, when people have the courage to engage controversy for just reasons, good things happen.
And if you're incensed as I am about right-wing assaults on family planning services, here are some ways you can combat them effectively. This is a battle we've fought and won many times since Title X began in 1970 with bipartisan sponsorship. We can prevail again--not by allowing our desire for civility to shun the conflict, but by riding into the leadership wave of controversy and using its energy to enlighten the debate in positive, civil, and creative ways.