In an interview about his role in the Civility Caucus, which he founded, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver had a few interesting personal tidbits on the general issue of civility. The caucus hasn’t been a runaway hit with members of Congress, but recently Cleaver and Rep. Kevin Yoder were awarded for their efforts. One interesting answer from the interview:
Cleaver: I grew up in public housing – I had a bad temper and was always ready to fight. I still have scars; I wear a mustache to cover up stitches on my upper lip, where I was hit with a brick. In college, when I was captain of the football team, the coach came up to me and told me that if I started another fight on the field, he’d fire me. I went through the rest of the season without participating in a single fight because I learned to control my anger.
Somewhere along the way I realized I could do that. Back home, I’m also a minister. As it says in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”