UPEI’s Dr. Benet Davetian, associate professor in sociology, was the invited speaker on October 15 at the University of Maryland’s President’s Symposium. Davetian spoke on the benefits of civility instruction and practice in the legal, medical, and social work professions.
Davetian held two cups of water during his presentation; one represented a cup half-empty, and the other, half-full. “We would be wrong to look at the cup and lament that it is half-empty, just as we would be wrong to cheer that it is half-full. Truth be told, our cultural cup is both half-empty and half-full. We need equal doses of pessimism and optimism if we are to come up with lasting solutions that revitalize our social and communal morale.”
Davetian’s research indicates that breakdowns in civility and collegiality have a measurable negative effect on the workers and beneficiaries of medical, legal, and social work services. “How motivated do you think a pharmacist would be to call a prescribing doctor to warn them that the wrong medication has been prescribed, if that doctor receives the news with rudeness? The pharmacist might not call the next time it happens.”
As for social workers and lawyers, he suggested that they are social therapists and should be compassionate when dealing with their clients, be they in the right or in the wrong. When asked by a member of the audience how one was to know what was deemed civil, he answered. “Ask yourself what is the right thing to do at that moment. The human spirit always has a truthful answer, even in a courtroom where everyone wants to win.”
Davetian was honoured to be invited to share his thoughts and speak at the President’s Symposium. “I was heartened that we all seemed to agree that we have reached a point in history where we need to re-think the distracting, and addictive, effects of superficial, hurried social networking, and instead, embrace age-old basics such as thoughtfulness.”