A relative few on the fringes have conjured the apparent incivility in U.S. culture. Extremists have been with us at least since the Whiskey Rebellion, but have not always had digital social media to spread their harebrained ideas.

Mostly, we are a nation of moderates who mistrust zealots. Today, we must harness and focus sensibility so it wins the day over fanaticism. Average people, unite to take back your country. Your motto might be, “Aw, come on now!”

The U.S. Catholic bishops have provided a good path. It’s based on “Fratelli Tutti,” the 2020 encyclical from Pope Francis that calls for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.”

The new initiative, Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics, asks regular Catholics to step forward with courage, charity and clarity.

At civilizeIt.org, participants can take a pledge and find materials like an examination of conscience, brief reflections, prayers and a guide to becoming a bridgebuilder across perspectives.

The materials aim to help Catholics and others of good will create a culture of encounter that will snuff out the society of sniping.

In 1987, I rode my bicycle from Maine to Oregon. I learned more than how to tend to chafing. Mile after mile, Americans handed me food, money, good advice and lodging. I never asked for any of it.

These hospitable folk came from across the continuums of politics and sanity. But each had a generous heart and wanted to see a fellow human being succeed.

My lived experience didn’t correspond with the news pages of the 1980s, which were full of murder, mayhem and cults. I suspect it’s similar now; the loud and cranky voices on social media don’t represent the true United States, a land of civility.