“We need more civility in this country. The rhetoric, the bullying, the viciousness isn’t OK. And there are too many people across the country that are beginning to think it is OK.” (Dingell)

For the past several years, I have observed an overall theme reflected by a hashtag. This theme and tag serves as the herald for events, positions, transitions, undercurrents and content that are my focus for the year.

It began in 2017 with the tenth anniversary of the Artemis Sere concept, brand and art via the #yearoftheSere tag.

It continued in 2018 with an exploration into the Sere philosophy and life practice with #yearoftheSeretic.

And most recently, 2019 featured my adventure into art-first existence and living the Artrovert idea via #yearoftheArtrovert.

I have formalized the years into themes to mark the passage of time for my brand, and try to align activities, publications and events around these themes. Often, my human life parallels these themes without me trying very hard, life imitating art.

Like chapters of a story, each year provides a fresh opportunity to add value to the plotline, and I’m driven to make meaning of this jagged path. In 2020, instead of tagging for personal gain, I’m launching a tag and content campaign to help bring civility back to our conversations.

We need a return to civility more than ever.

Serenity… Later

Over the course of the last year, I communicated that my next year theme in the sequence would be the #yearofSerenity. The goal of this theme was many-fold:

1) share newly-updated Serenity Gallery, one piece at a time,
2) promote my upcoming Serenity Gallery book “Echoprism”,
3) push the idea of “Serenity” at a time when the country is divided,
4) advance art appreciation,
and 5) inform about my new business Seretic Studios, founded in 2019.

If you follow my work, I’m sure you’d agree that this is a logical path considering how much visual content that I have.

My #yearofSerenity already has much content planned and events scoped. While I’m not completely ready to roll the content and social media plans for my #yearofSerenity, I have more than enough content for 365 days worth of Artemis Sere art.

And we’re a couple of days away from 2020 as I write this. Almost time to lock in my theme for next year.

The Turn

In a year of twists and turns and dead ends, it should be no surprise that I’ve decided to go in another direction completely for 2020. 2019 was a turbulent year for me, and as I look around my universe, the crowd is thinning out, as opposed to becoming stronger. Distance and division have become  commonplace between friends and neighbors. Racism and bigotry are in high supply, and tolerance and patience seem rare.

It’s no secret that I’m vehemently anti-Trump. There are few people I’d align the word “hate” with, but he qualifies. I have attended an anti-Trump rally and have been a vocal opponent since he was elected. I have shouted my truth as loud as I can to everyone who listens to me, and am viewed as an extreme Liberal by some.

The truth is that I no longer consider myself American. It’s not an identity or persona that I understand and can relate to. The Dream we were sold is not affordable and doesn’t lead to a holistic, humble and harmonious human experience.

I expect 2020 to feel like war every day in the USA, our schisms and borders and allies pushed farther apart with every presidential lie, evangelical $ermon and Faux News spin.

The Return

Hibernation has given me much time to reflect, inspect and renew. And go through boxes. As I try to adopt more minimalist living, I am giving away much that I own. It is a freeing endeavor, one that I should’ve began long ago.

But minimalism isn’t trendy. Greed is. More is never enough, and Americans are obese with needs, expanded constantly by a consumer wheel that keeps most caught in its cogs. The daily grind pulverizes civilization into product-centric puppets, with little energy for patience and sparse clarity of purpose.

Consume. Excrete. Repeat. The Art of the Deal is a compromise with the teeth of the machine before it rips you to shreds and recycles you.

I am presently pushing the maw back with all of my might, feeling the razor’s edge of poverty, decay and destitution daily.

I tell the story of my fall, paint the pictures of an activist and rage against the machine with my truth, but in doing so, I have only pushed the rift further apart. Pushed friends apart. Pushed family apart.

Pushed myself apart, into islands of isolation and idealism. Exiled to these places by my lack of listening. Lack of consideration. Lack of humanity.

Lack of civility.

Year of Civility

Ultimately, 2020 is bigger than my art. Trump — the person and the brand — needs to be removed from office to bring stability, integrity and opportunity  back to American politics. The damage done can be repaired, but the healing has to start.

So, yes, if you’re reading this and disagree with my anti-Trump foundation, this challenge will be as difficult for you as it is for me.

But we have to find a civil way to meet on the bridge of debate. We need a return to common, human sense. We need a rebirth of humility. We need a reset of courtesy.

Enter John Sweeney’s little black book of daily suggestions of how to promote a civil lifestyle and courteous behaviors, “Return to Civility”. I don’t know how I got the book. Published in 2007 by a local press, I’m sure it’s not on anyone’s bestseller list. In fact, I had mostly forgotten about it. It was tucked amongst dusty books from my English degree and various other forgettable titles I clung to. As I was considering it for the Secondhand store bags, I started flipping through it.

And realized how important the book was in today’s divided, courtesy-devoid age. The book also reminded me that “Courtesy” is the 5th law of the Boy Scout Law, an important guide that has been deprioritized over the last few years as American centrism and nationalism have dominated the culture. Most have forgotten what it means to be #humanfirst.

The more I thought about the daily suggestions, the more I realized that others need the same advice and wisdom. I decided to try to use my social platforms for the grander good in 2020. Rather than make the year about my brand goals, I want to explore how to find my way back to harmony, courtesy and civility in my own life. I think that will provide passion and inertia for my #yearofSerenity in 2021.

New goal: share a page from John Sweeney’s “Return to Civilty” every day on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in 2020 and hope to inspire a stronger civilization by recommitting to human courtesy as an important virtue.

Some general notes/disclaimers about this endeavor:

  1. I do not know John J. Sweeney, have not met him and am not sharing his book content with intent for compensation or promotion of or from Mr. Sweeney or the various contributors of “Return to Civility”. I’m sharing content from Sweeney’s book for the sake of promoting wisdom and courteous behavior.
  2. I do not know nor am I associated with Brave New Workshop, though they seem like an entertaining outfit.
  3. I will do my best to post all 365 pages of individual suggestions to my Art of Artemis Sere Facebook, @artemissere Instagram and @setinbone Twitter. If I miss a day, I apologize in advance.
  4. All thoughts and content outside of “Return to Civility” book content reflect me, not any author associated with the book.
  5. If you’d like to pick up your own copy of the book “Return to Civility”, you can find it on Amazon with this link

Follow the #yearofCivility hashtag and engage with this discussion throughout 2020. Thank you for your consideration, and your commitment to civility.

Sweeney Return to Civility
Sweeney Return to Civility