Since I pay the bill for maintaining this blog, I get to set the ground rules.
I say this because recently a guest to my blog has posted dissenting views. If you have read my 100 Things (v1.1) you know that I value dissenting opinion. Really. I value diversity of all kinds. So, posting ideas that are in contrast with the positions I or other guests to my blog take is fine with me. However, Houston, we have had a problem.
Dissenting views are welcomed; but, no one is ever welcomed to be offensive in presenting dissenting comments or even supporting comments for that matter. So, what are the ground rules for comment etiquette at Tim’s Reflection Connection? These come to mind at present:
- Comments which attack people instead of presenting competing ideas are not acceptable. For example, comments such as: “You are absolutely crazy.”, “I hope you are not that ignorant.”, “I feel sorry for someone as confused as you are. The problem is that your arrogance will not let you see the forest [sic] for the trees.” are disrespectful, condescending, and will be deleted. Disrespectful, unkind, mean-spirited comments are never acceptable in the contest of ideas as they obscure issue-based thinking and blur sharp, critical thinking. My blog will not have the tone of Bill O’Rielly and yell TV. Regrettably, people who watch Fox may think such a communication tone is acceptable because Fox models it so pervasively.
- Comments which make summary judgments, assumptions, or generalizations about individuals or groups of people are generally discouraged unless compelling evidence is presented to support the claim. For example, a comment such as: “Sounds like to me that you are just spouting out retoric [sic] that you here [sic] on the TV.” is discouraged because the comment makes unsubstantiated assumptions about me which, in this case, are just untrue. I actually haven’t watched television in many years.
- Comments should be made thoughtfully in a way that promotes critical thinking and further conversation. For example, comments such as: ” Anyone who knew what they are talking about knows that.” are condescending and tend to shut off authentic and meaningful conversation.
A close friend of mine pointed out to me that I should expect emotionally charged rhetoric on my blog as I have written often about “Unpolite Conversation” as I call it: politics and faith. He’s right I guess. But, remember, I had an epiphany on September 19th. I shared that in my post entitled, “Made Me Think.” The speaker gave several guidelines for meaningful and authentic conversation when talking about controversial topics such as politics.
- We must always be honest and admit that we are so capable of self-deception.
- We must move beyond jargon and rhetoric and provide a safe space in which we can honestly listen to (not just hear) and discuss each position’s fears and hopes.
- We must speak from the Holy in ourselves to the Holy in those with whom we are communicating.
- We must at all times be open to the reality that each moment, each experience, each encounter in our lives is an opportunity to lead us into transformation.
I started a post a couple weeks ago that will eventually find its way to this blog: The Difference Between Ideas and Beliefs. The constructs presented in that post are relevant to this conversation. When thoughts move from ideas, which are tenuous and permitted to change with ease, to beliefs, to which we ascribe substantive emotional weight and personal identity, the tone of the conversation tends to change significantly, and the opportunity for transformation is often reduced. Beliefs tend to be tenacious, becoming a filter through which we view the experiences and ideas that come our way from that point forward.
I would like to invite my readers to all keep our discussions idea-based. Though not easily done, such an approach allows us to more easily imagine other solutions to problems which we all face alike. Doing so removes the contest of ego or will, positional thinking, emotional attachment or the association of personal identity more commonly associated with beliefs.
My blog is about ideas, reflecting on our life events and ideas all within the celebrated spirit of our connectedness and interdependance–Tim’s Reflection Connection. Good people, wonderful people, patriotic people, intelligent people can disagree about ideas they believe will promote the greater good and do so in a way that promotes respect for people, greater understanding, as well as personal growth and enlightenment. Can we welcome ourselves into a better way of being? I think so. But that’s just my idea.