Image - Alexandra Hudson and detail from her book cover
Past Event

Alexandra Hudson: The Soul of Civility

From classical philosophers like Epictetus, to great 20th century thinkers like Martin Luther King Jr., to her own experience working in the federal government during a particularly politically fraught era, Alexandra Hudson examines how civility―a respect for the personhood and dignity of others―transcends political disagreements. Respecting someone means valuing them enough to tell them when you think they are wrong.

It’s easy to look at the divided state of the world and blame our leaders, the media, or our education system. Hudson says that instead, we should focus on what we can control: ourselves. She argues that includes living tolerantly with others despite deep differences, but still rigorously protesting wrongs and debating issues rather than silencing disagreements. Since a robust public discourse is essential to a truly civil society, and since respecting others means telling hard truths, if enough of us decide to change ourselves, we might be able to change the world we live in too. And that is the difference between politeness―a superficial appearance of good manners―and true civility.


A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Photo courtesy the speaker.

November 30, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States

Image - Alexandra Hudson

Alexandra Hudson

Adjunct Professor, Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy; Founder, Civic Renaissance; Creator, Storytelling and The Human Condition series, The Teaching Company; Author, The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates