by user Journeyman
Having spent some time observing on this board I hope you will indulge me these remarks offered as candidly and humbly as I know how.
Anyone who chooses to debate politics might be presumed to have a nobler motive, and that might be a desire for a better country or a more just world. I hope we are all united in that.
However, before we go deciding what is better or just for others, the most important thing is to apply the rule of better and just to ourselves. Can we fix another person's vision if WE don't see? Often we have not even the first idea about the large and small ways we are blinded. It's difficult to get that first idea. Many people live a lifetime without looking for it or having it occur to them; even after eighty or ninety years of receiving larger and more dramatic clues.
An appropriately Oriental way of looking at it is order the mind, and the thoughts will be orderly. Order the thoughts, and the words will be orderly.
Fast forward, to this or any other bulletin board where people of various levels of preparation debate each other.
Among the evidence of "fixing the other" where we ourselves remain badly fixed: we see debaters attributing bad faith to each other, making assumptions about each other's unstated position. If you disagree with me on this, you must be in favor of that.
We see what could have been an outcry for peace, where in the same sentence the poster is at war against those who differ from his opinion in some nuance.
We see liberals who neither forgive nor liberate. We see conservatives who save or preserve nothing.
We see diatribes: people stating how they "despise" the President; while in the same post they emulate one of President Bush's chief faults: if you're not with me, you're against me.
We see overreactions of a telling kind: a leap to the defense, the calling of names or harsh generalizations in reply. We see that hot buttons are pushed by interesting and curious things, and we take note and wonder.
We see posts escalate into hostility unnecessarily. A challenge to an opinion is really a chance to learn, to moderate and temper and mix attitudes and postures. Yet we sometimes think that a challenge is something that we must reject, and defeat utterly, otherwise all we think we believe could be in doubt. Again, it's the "all or nothing" that some see and dislike in Mr. Bush; while some of us act it out here and who knows where else? On our families, coworkers and friends?
We miss the message in discomfort. The discomfort you feel with contradiction, or with someone's observation of your behavior... the flush of rage some of you feel... is a sign and a signal to you. Try to refrain from it. You need not give in to it. It's deceiving you. You don't have to believe in everything you happen to think.
Will we stay on our tragically sightless mission to fix the other, indeed to dominate the other with our way of seeing? ... dangerously unaware that we are full of the very thing we criticize?
Can we admit error and partial seeing? Can we own up to what's ours and not push it off on others?
Have we failed to order our mind and our thoughts before we pronounce or write our words?
Can we at least start now?
Politics, or the things we want to change in law and social order, is really a proxy for the things we MUST change in ourselves first.
The social order will reflect the mind of the greater number of its citizens. Freedom is the result of meriting freedom; the loss of freedom invariably follows its abuse. If we don't read the signs, we will find ourselves in stricter circumstances; and there is no blaming the government.
If we had leaders who were prepared in this manner, there would not be the selfishness, partisanship and reckless behavior we see in every government in the world.
Again: can we start now?