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having made concrete contributions, opportunities for common understand-
ing and true community building were not possible this time.
In a world where a disaster changes lives forever, it is certain that people
will be there for each other. Creating and sustaining meaningful interactions
and exchanges with one another can have positive lessons for all, with or
without a storm. We can start by affirming the reason for the action—and
acknowledging the urgency of the situation—and that the action upholds
individual values and principles of helping others. The hardest part is main-
taining a sense of civility in difficult situations: having a high standard of
respect for others without assumptions, value judgments, or arrogance.
For respect builds trust among people; it makes us humble and creates the
space—that third space—where both parties can coexist for common good
and the affirmation of human dignity. Civility is beyond being nice, play-
ing by the rules, and acting accordingly. It defines approaches to face the
world—or a storm—with a heart that asserts respect and trust. Genuine civil-
ity, indeed, is hard work.
Summary Janet Gonzalez-Mena
Reading what my coauthors had to say brought home to
me how words trigger feelings and some words have dif-
ferent meanings depending on personal experience. Nice
is one of those words. I started with Marcus and his “It’s
nice to be nice,” and look where it took us! I certainly
understand Holly Elissa’s strong reaction and the hegemony of nice in ECE.
Being nice is often a way of getting along, smiling, and being quite dishonest.
But Marcus was never like that. He was the last person you would expect to
be giving advice using the word nice. I should have painted a picture of him,
because his words contrasted with his appearance. He was a dark-skinned,
hefty, tough-looking Chicano with long hair and a beard. He must have
looked scary to some people until they talked to him. He was a fierce advo-
cate for civil rights, and at the same time he displayed civility. He didn’t use
that word, but I think that’s what he meant when he used the word nice. He
danced with conflict and—as Debra said—used the dance as a way to expand
Debra also wrote about equity and social justice, which Marcus dealt with
his whole life. He was civil, but it was clear from the day I met him that he
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