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getting along in discussion lists

Jan 10, 2001 08:55 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

I just posted this on another list, but think it might
be worth thinking about here too.

-- Eldon Tucker


There are simple ground rules for a cordial exchange of ideas. The
rules work even when people hold wildly different opinions. First
is to never assume someone else's motives. Ask them what they are
trying to do, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if they
seem to claim better motives now than they appeared to have had,
let them be the better person they want to be.

The second rule is to let people explain themselves when their
writings seem unclear. Don't lock them into one's own interpretation.
This is not a court where the exact words used are legally binding.
It is a forum for the discussion of ideas, where we do someone a
favor when asking them to express themselves in different words, as
they practice making their writing clearer.

The third rule is to acknowledge that other people hold different
worldviews. Others may not be operating with the same assumptions
about life, about the way the universe works, and about what is
true knowledge and experience. Let others have their say from their
own standpoint, without having to cut them down and humble them,
forcing them to accept themselves as our system of thought might
see them. The universe is different to them; let them live in it
without sending an imperial army of ideas to invade it, with the
object of conquest.

Lastly, practice the noble virtues in the exchange. The virtues
aren't just for theorizing about life. Laugh at oneself and others
in a light and friendly manner -- the opposite of ridicule and
mockery. Love them in a brotherly manner -- the opposite of hating
them as enemies. Respect them as fellow seekers -- the opposite of
deploring them with bitter contempt. In other words: have a good
time with friends rather than trying to kill everyone in sight!!!

-- Eldon

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