Since joining this group it has come to mind how truly difficult it is to engage in open meaningful spiritual dialogue among equals, add to that the naturally communication difficulties that arise from an on-line discussion forum, such as lack of intonation, body language and facial cues, and what I see is a huge potential for disastrous miscommunications, and a serious lack of any moving or challenging discourse.

To try and grapple with this I would like to share a few of my desires and dreads regarding spiritual communication, in hopes of giving those here a better chance of communicating successfully with me.  I would also like to invite anyone else to share their personal desires and dreads in order to help me more successfully communicate back.

Desires-

I enjoy hearing stories of religious and spiritually moving personal experiences.  Including the history of one's personal spiritual evolution and their forecast for future evolution.

I welcome receiving challenges to my own religious and philosophical presuppositions, either in the form of a challenging question like... "What would be the implications if everyone were to embrace this concept as truth?"  "Or if this is true what is the practical evidence to support this belief?" Or in the form of a statement which illustrates a potential contradiction or evident flaw in thinking.

I like being presented with alternative options of thought, as in "This is one way to explain this phenomenon but it could also be explained by..."

I also enjoy being gifted with more detailed information about religious paths that I don't know a great deal about. 

Dreads-

I strongly dislike having my religious opinions/personal truths ranked, rated or otherwise subjected to any system of measurement.

I don't like being told generic statements of truth, such as "balance is necessary", "one should be honest with oneself", "God is mysterious" unless of course I have just contradicted one of these notions and the statement is a part of a presentation of an alternative option of thought, or unless this is part of a personal experience narrative.

I don't like having my style of writing/speaking dissected or analyzed unless it has posed a serious difficulty in understanding my meaning.  If my meaning is unclear by all means ask me to clarify my meaning, but if my spelling, grammar, paragraph style is lacking or jarring to your personal sensibilities I invite you to ignore it.  If your really cannot help yourself and must address this please do so respectfully.  I'm not here as part of perfecting my writing style and I don't always pay close attentions to typos or elements of style and form.

I don't like being told I'm wrong, stupid, or lacking in understanding.  This is not to say that I have a problem being questioned or challenged.  I enjoy those things a great deal because they leave room for continued dialogue.  Blanket statements of I'm right and your wrong simply cue me that there is no longer room for dialogue.

Also if you are going to be offended or offensive I much prefer if you just come right out with it.  Implying or alleging that I am incapable of being part of an intelligent discourse is cowardly and will be met with open hostility.

In Conclusion

I don't share these things because I am hyper-sensitive.  I share these things because I truly make every possible effort to engage in conversation in a positive, dynamic and open way, and as I would like to avoid the personal peeves of others, so I would like to give others the opportunity to grasp my personal peeves. That way we can focus conversation on the things that matter.

I am very open to having heated debates which force me to reexamine all of my preconceived notions but I would like those debates to take place on an even and respectful playing field.  It is my hope that this social network can function as such a playing field.  I hope to be around for a long time, sharing my thoughts in a respectful way, and learning from all of the diverse experiences of the people in this group.

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Joy, thank you so much for reaching out to the community. I'm sorry I haven't gotten around to replying yet, and that my reply may be insufficiently short, but I'm quite busy reading the Belief Genome project for Kickstarter fund raising.

Anyhow, your concerns are mine as well. In the past this site was very debate oriented, fiercely so. But later down the road it was rebranded and I wanted to take a different approach - less debate, and something able to accomodate all spiritual and religious walks of life.

That said, it's interesting how difficult that balance can be to keep. I sometimes consider asking for a few volunteer 'peace keepers' to help keep discussions civil and focused. I'd be curious to hear other people's thoughts on this and especially your own.

I think debate can be a good and healthy outlet but it depends almost entirely on the goal of the debate.  If ones goal is to change someone else's mind, that implies a lack of respect for the other person's perspective and beliefs.  The only possible goal of debate can be to change ones own mind or to adjust and refine ones own arguments.  Religious debate can be frustrating and even traumatic if one is continually met with disrespectful individuals who are more interested in "winning" the debate than understanding the perspective of another.

I find one of the greatest challenges to friendly religious/spiritual dialogue is avoiding the teacher-student dynamic, because everyone wants to be the teacher and so few are willing to be the student.  When someone is willing to listen from a student like perspective teacher types may see that as consent to proselytize or may make assumptions that the student listener lacks a solid belief path of their own.  My goal is to engage in discourse as equals.  I find this very easy to do in face to face interactions but incredibly challenging in an on-line environment.  I think the biggest reason is that we enter every conversation on-line blindly.  In life I can seek out individuals with good energy and an open demeanor.  On line I only have a person's words to cue me to the type of conversation we might have together, and I have found time and time again that a person's ability to present themselves intelligently is completely unconnected to an individuals willingness to be respectful and open to the ideas of another.  It's all too easy for someone to make a statement like, "I'm very open to what you have to say, but this is why you are wrong..."  Usually it doesn't happen in a single statement like that, but this kind of communication happens a lot in on-line conversations.  So few are willing to own their own stank.

I think it's a big step for someone to be able to acknowledge when they find a comment offensive or upsetting, because then they can begin to discuss those feelings in an open way.  If they can acknowledge their own feelings and also recognize that those feelings may not have been the intent of the individual that caused the feelings to arise that's even better.  I think your idea of peace keepers is a good one, but I don't necessarily think the peace keepers should just encourage people to be nice... I still strongly believe that a lot of good can come from debate and many individuals in religious on-line communities thrive off of debate.  (I wonder if the falling off of forum activity might correlate with the rebranding of the sight... religious forums seem to attract those who want to debate, and without debate many my wonder what the point is beyond that.)  I think your peace keepers should be willing to ask questions to redirect the aggressors to examine their own thoughts and feelings, maintain an even playing field by pointing out logical fallacies and debate tricks, and support and encourage those who may feel that they are under attack, so that they can draw their own ideas together into a strong and coherent argument.  It would be a tall order, but an interesting challenge for the right folks... the right folks being those who are self aware enough not to be drawn into the argument themselves.

Dear Joy. I may be missing something, but do you have anything of significance to say here that could in fact be a challenge (as you say) to religious spiritual dialogue?

I'm sure that with a little effot you'll find a rich history of such intercourse on this very site. Enjoy

I'm not quite sure what your getting at Roman...

This particular topic was meant to open dialogue about the way we dialogue.  I did not mean to imply that there has been a lack of significant intercourse on this site.  I am new here and I'm still trying to get the sense of how the community functions, and what the expectations are.  I feel that communicating my hopes and concerns is a part of becoming a part of the community.

Many of the thoughts I share in my previous post aren't directly related to, and are therefore not a criticism of this site or the individuals on it, they are observations I've made while attempting to dialogue in different on-line communities about similar topics.

I have plenty of thoughts and opinions that I would be happy to share.  But your question, seems to read as a challenge.  I'm not sure if it is your intention but it almost reads as if the meaning behind it is, "Prove your significance or get out of the way and stop wasting our time."  If this is my misunderstanding, I apologize and request clarification of your intent.

If I have not misunderstood your intention then I would be happy to accept your challenge and let you judge for yourself whether or not I have anything significant to say, but I leave it to you to begin the conversation.  I'm willing to dialogue on just about any topic, but I am not prepared to put on a performance in order to prove my significance.  If that is the expectation I respectfully decline.

So running with this idea of Peace Keepers (or perhaps a different name?), why don't we toss around a few ideas of what exact sort of rules these people might keep. Just spitballing here...

- Debate must be conducted not in the spirit of proving yourself right or someone else wrong, but to help others understand.
- Accusational tones are frowned upon and generally directed to try and be more understanding.
- ?
- ?

Another caveat I might add if this were in place is that these rules apply ONLY for this site, they are not meant to be dogma or rules for people's lives, but only methods of interaction on this site to promote healthy exchange and editing of belief modules.

I think the first should run more as a statement of intent than an actual rule... a request of acknowledgement that the purpose of debate is to help oneself shape and refine one's own belief path rather than an attempt to alter the beliefs of others, and should be conducted respectfully and in a spirit of good will.

You know... I'm sitting thinking in terms of rules, and I find that I'm having a hard time thinking of rules that would fit into clear easy language and be applicable through multiple contexts and I'm not coming up with much.  Part of the problem is that in general I don't like rules.  What applies in one context might not apply in another, and I do believe in an individuals right to express themselves no matter how much I disagree with them.  Rules that do come to mind are the most basic kindergarten style rules. 

-Be Respectful

-Don't make personal attacks

-Treat everyone as you would like to be treated

-Ask questions to help avoid misunderstandings

Rather than having peace keepers trolling for rule breakers though it would be cool if there were a little button on the forum where you could flag a conversation for mediation assistance, and a peace keeper could then step in and begin asking questions in order to redirect the conversation along more progressive lines.  That puts the power into the hands of the individuals having a conversation. That way if a couple of people really want to have a go at each other they have the freedom to do that.  While individuals who are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, hurt or offended can get some assistance from an objective third party.

 

Joy,

You suggest that healthy debate depends on whether or not the debater intends to change the mind of someone else or their own mind.  I would very much suggest that the aim of the debaters is to influence the ideas and thinking of those observing the debate. 

Joy, historically, debate is based on the art of persuasion.  Are you somehow suggesting that debate is not about persuading those who are listening to the debate – in one direction or another?

As far as religious debate is concerned, I think tolerance is required by those who are seemingly disrespected or demeaned by others.   The alternative is censorship or political correctness.

As far as the teacher-student dynamic is concerned, my experience is that those who come here to only teach and not to learn will not remain.  At one time there were a number of proselytizers here.  They seem to have evaporated.

You may find your goal of debating amongst equals to be somewhat frustrating because we are each different – with varying capacities and capabilities.  Some people lack insight, knowledge or current information and are offended when their perspectives are not recognized and appreciated as valid.   Joy, if you are an expert in a subject and I am not, I have no problem recognizing we are not equals or being a student of yours.  On the other hand if I think you don’t know what you’re talking about, should I hesitate to tell you this and provide examples of why I think this way?

As far as being open and respectful to the ideas of another, there is nothing that says you must be open to my ideas once you know what they are,  The only thing you need to respect is that these are my ideas and that I have the right to believe them.  To the proselytizer, this is not enough.  They want us to share in their belief.   

As far as acknowledging our own feelings and the feelings of others, my training and experience lead me to believe that some people use and reveal their feelings like some people would draw a pistol.  The only thing I can do is be responsible for my feeling in a forum like this.  It is very difficult for me to account for the feelings of others in an online medium.  Look, if you piss me off, I’m far less interested in discussing how you make me feel than what you did that I found to be offensive. 

There are a variety of reasons for the fall-off of participation at this site.  Probably the greatest reason was that Sid turned of the ability of people to have nested discussions.  There was no discussion about doing this – right Sid.  The owner of the site wants to stifle multi-threaded discussions in favour of the linear discussions we are now engaged in.  This restricts discussion.  He did this, as I recall, to promote “his” idea of Belief Modules and to discourage people from arguing over their beliefs.

Joy, your participation is valued and appreciated.  Your insights and suggestions are encouraged.



Joy B Tobin said:

I think debate can be a good and healthy outlet but it depends almost entirely on the goal of the debate.  If ones goal is to change someone else's mind, that implies a lack of respect for the other person's perspective and beliefs.  The only possible goal of debate can be to change ones own mind or to adjust and refine ones own arguments.  Religious debate can be frustrating and even traumatic if one is continually met with disrespectful individuals who are more interested in "winning" the debate than understanding the perspective of another.

I find one of the greatest challenges to friendly religious/spiritual dialogue is avoiding the teacher-student dynamic, because everyone wants to be the teacher and so few are willing to be the student.  When someone is willing to listen from a student like perspective teacher types may see that as consent to proselytize or may make assumptions that the student listener lacks a solid belief path of their own.  My goal is to engage in discourse as equals.  I find this very easy to do in face to face interactions but incredibly challenging in an on-line environment.  I think the biggest reason is that we enter every conversation on-line blindly.  In life I can seek out individuals with good energy and an open demeanor.  On line I only have a person's words to cue me to the type of conversation we might have together, and I have found time and time again that a person's ability to present themselves intelligently is completely unconnected to an individuals willingness to be respectful and open to the ideas of another.  It's all too easy for someone to make a statement like, "I'm very open to what you have to say, but this is why you are wrong..."  Usually it doesn't happen in a single statement like that, but this kind of communication happens a lot in on-line conversations.  So few are willing to own their own stank.

I think it's a big step for someone to be able to acknowledge when they find a comment offensive or upsetting, because then they can begin to discuss those feelings in an open way.  If they can acknowledge their own feelings and also recognize that those feelings may not have been the intent of the individual that caused the feelings to arise that's even better.  I think your idea of peace keepers is a good one, but I don't necessarily think the peace keepers should just encourage people to be nice... I still strongly believe that a lot of good can come from debate and many individuals in religious on-line communities thrive off of debate.  (I wonder if the falling off of forum activity might correlate with the rebranding of the sight... religious forums seem to attract those who want to debate, and without debate many my wonder what the point is beyond that.)  I think your peace keepers should be willing to ask questions to redirect the aggressors to examine their own thoughts and feelings, maintain an even playing field by pointing out logical fallacies and debate tricks, and support and encourage those who may feel that they are under attack, so that they can draw their own ideas together into a strong and coherent argument.  It would be a tall order, but an interesting challenge for the right folks... the right folks being those who are self aware enough not to be drawn into the argument themselves.

Sidian, this discussion is not new.  Is it?  Formulating a code of conduct, so to speak, has not been part of the culture here in the past.  Are you now suggesting you might now support the notion of a social etiquette? Even if you did, you know that the real problem is enforcement.  Is the owner of the site prepared to enforce sanctions associated with some kind of code of conduct?  If so, who decides what sanction should be imposed and when. 

I think of how a longstanding member once accused dattaswami of being a pedophile because he posted ideas on a Christian Youth web site.  Will this kind of personal accusation no longer be tolerated or will you let it go as in the you have in the past?  

In the future, if an incident like this were to happen again, what would you suggest be done to protect people against unfounded personal accusations intended to demean and discredit.  What does the OSR rule book say about censoring such comments? 

What are the rules of engagement?  What's your vision?  People like Joy are unlikely to remain in the tactical hostilities that have been allowed to exist here in the past.  Are you proposing a culture change of some kind?

 
Sidian M.S. Jones said:

So running with this idea of Peace Keepers (or perhaps a different name?), why don't we toss around a few ideas of what exact sort of rules these people might keep. Just spitballing here...

- Debate must be conducted not in the spirit of proving yourself right or someone else wrong, but to help others understand.
- Accusational tones are frowned upon and generally directed to try and be more understanding.
- ?
- ?

Another caveat I might add if this were in place is that these rules apply ONLY for this site, they are not meant to be dogma or rules for people's lives, but only methods of interaction on this site to promote healthy exchange and editing of belief modules.

Kernel,

First in defining debate, it is absolutely true that if one is debating as part of a debate team or a political campaign that the goal is to persuade your audience, and in general it is accepted that you should attempt to win the debate by any means necessary, if there is an opening to make ones opponent look like an idiot, then one is acting in accordance with the rules of debate to exploit that opening and win over the audience through the use of charisma and false logic.  In this type of scenario there is competition involved and the goal is always winning.

I don't mind at all if you disagree, but it seems to me that a social network with the goal of exploring and defining ones own spiritual and religious beliefs according to an open source format is better served through fair minded debate rather than no holds barred, kick 'em in the shins, throw dirt in their eyes debate tactics.  It is entirely a personal philosophy of mine that we best change the world by changing ourselves.  Through expanding our own horizons we are better able to deal with diversity in the world and we are never made less by increasing our own understanding.  It is my personal ideal that debate should follow this aim.

I think it is a bit of an oversimplification to suggest that the only two options that are open to us is walking on eggshells for fear of causing some offence, or allowing any and all disrespectful behaviors go without recognition or acknowledgement.  There are huge areas of middle ground that are open and available for exploration.  This type of community seems to me like an excellent forum for such exploration to take place.  Although I would also like to point out that I did not begin this discussion with the intent of making any alteration to the site whatsoever.  My intention was to share my personal thoughts and feelings and to invite others to do the same.  I subsequently shared some thoughts about possible alternative approaches, but there seemed to be an open invitation to all to do so.

To clarify my point about teacher/student dynamics.  I don't mean to say that there is a problem with people sharing the knowledge that they have, nor a problem with people being open to learning new things.  I just find that when one views oneself as the teacher and others as students... there often tends to be a lingering sense that that person is talking down to others, attempting to educated them when no education is necessary.  There is a big difference between open sharing between a knowledgeable individual and someone who desires knowledge, and an individual taking a patronizing tone with another individual when no request for information was requested or implied.  This is also merely one of my personal peeves which I am sharing on behalf of anyone who may have interest or concern.

To clarify my point about feelings of frustration.  I expressed several examples of things that I find bothersome and frustrating, encountering differences in others was not one of the things I mentioned, and I'm not quite sure where you got that idea.  I will admit that being disrespectful is a difference that I don't share, but that is not a difference of opinion, capacity or knowledge it is a difference of conduct.  There is a reason that boxers box in a ring and street fighters fight on the street.  If I think I am involved in a boxing match and the person I am up against starts acting like a street fighter, there is a problem.  If I stop having a boxing match and start street fighting I'm okay with that too, but you better expect that at that point I'm going to drop all pretense that the fight is fair and balanced.  In terms of bringing this out of metaphor and back to reality.  I usually conduct myself in a way that is warm friendly and straight forward even when I disagree.  If someone wants communicate to me in a way that is underhanded or hostile I see no cause to continue a pretense of friendly dialogue.  I prefer to conduct myself in a friendly manner.  I prefer for those I encounter to conduct themselves in a friendly manner.  If this site doesn't support friendliness then the choice I have is to either leave or shift my conduct to match the conduct of others.  At this point the site doesn't seem particularly unfriendly to me, and I have in the past been an active member in communities in which open hostility was the norm.  Although I would like to ask... You made the statement to Sidian, "People like Joy are unlikely to remain in the tactical hostilities that have been allowed to exist here in the past."  This seems to imply an intimate knowledge of me, or at least people like me.  What exactly are people like me like?  What gives you the idea that I am unable to weather tactical hostilities?  And what precisely do you mean by tactical hostilities?  It seems that there is an implication that if someone were to call me a pedophile I would flee from the site in tears.  Did I say something to create the impression that I am frail and overly sensitive?  Don't get me wrong I absolutely reserve the right to flee from the site at any time, tears optional... what I am trying to figure out is if I made a statement that calls into question my emotional stability, or if you just happen to make broad generalizations about everyone you meet after a few limited conversations, or perhaps you feel that you are psychic...  Don't worry you can tell it to me straight.  I think I can hold back the tears (sarcasm, yes?).

I think your point about being open is due to a difference in semantics.  You seem to be using the term open to mean, sharing the same idea.  I use the term open to mean willing to acknowledge a point of difference and move past it.  If I am open to your ideas it doesn't mean that I share them or agree with them, only that I acknowledge that there is a difference and don't feel a pressing need to change either of us before moving on.  I don't think there is an actual difference of opinion there.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

If you don't personally feel comfortable sharing your feelings I can respect that, although I think there is a great deal more to sharing feelings than using them as a weapon or attempting to force another individual to take responsibility for them.  In a face to face conversation I rarely bring up feelings unless there is a clear emotional response taking place either from myself or another.  In an on-line environment there are no emotional cues except for the words that are used.  Part of the reason I tend to be so long winded much of the time is that I am attempting to give a complete picture of my perspective including a sense of emotional tone.  This is almost impossible to achieve with short clipped responses.  For people who relate as a thinker it is easiest to ignore the question of feelings all together.  I relate in a feeling way and my goal is usually to support and share in a way that is mindful of the feelings of others.  Communicating in an on-line environment is challenging to feeling types because discussions can easily move from friendly to hostile with very little warning.  This doesn't happen face to face because there are always cues as the conversation begins to slide from a place of good feelings to a place of discomfort with plenty of fair warning before hostility is achieved.  I feel that acknowledging ones own emotions is part of being a good communicator and also plays a very big role in personal growth, but as with everything else it is the option of the individual to do as they please.

Thank you for explaining the reason for the fall off of participation.  This was not something I was previously aware of.  I understand that changes of format can be very disruptive to an online community.

Thank you for saying that my participation is valued and appreciated... this doesn't necessarily feel consistent with the overall tone of the conversations we have shared together thus far, but I recognize it as an attempt to be nice and will accept it as such.

People like you – Joy, are unlikely to remain in the tactical hostilities that have been allowed to exist here in the past.  Are you familiar with the tactical hostilities that have gone on here until recently

From what I think I know of Joy, he/she will disengage from persistently hostile persons or environments.  Is this intimate knowledge (working assumption) incorrect? 

As for “tactical hostilities”, when a person is intent on obscuring another persons opinion or point of view by personally discrediting them rather than their opinion in an offensive manner, this would be a tactical hostility.

“Open” = “Receptive” = Open to receiving the ideas of others.
Personally I prefer using the power to discriminate ideas rather than simple openness to them.  For example, if the spiritual idea in question does not exist within a more comprehensive framework or cosmology, I am not inclined to spend much time churning it.  There is a lot of fluff out there Joy. 

As for your impression that I don’t feel comfortable sharing my feelings, it’s not a question of comfort, it’s a question of practicality.  I am a university trained “Personal Growth Group” facilitator.  If you wish to converse on an affective level in a forum like this, go ahead.  Without face-to-face contact (cues),  discussions about personal feelings can be misleading. Are you on Skype?  I remember how some of our proselytizer friends here would claim act as if they felt like persecuted victims when their “orthodox” ideas were challenged.  All I’m saying is if people are genuine with one another and honest with themselves (easier said than done) the need to move discussion to an emotive level will be minimal.

When I hear someone say, “It is entirely a personal philosophy of mine that we best change the world by changing ourselves”, I wonder what the real point is?  There is nothing original or entirely personal about “As I change, so the world changes.”  

When you say, “Thank you for saying that my participation is valued and appreciated... this doesn't necessarily feel consistent with the overall tone of the conversations we have shared together thus far, but I recognize it as an attempt to be nice and will accept it as such”, what gives you the intimate knowledge that I was simply attempting to be nice?  I was expressing a feeling of appreciation to you and you chose to not trust it.  You indicated that even though you didn’t accept my expression as genuine, you will accept it anyway.  Joy, how do you think that makes you sound?

Look, without going into detail, my academic training involved not only interpersonal and group dynamics & development but the notion of intervention and collaborative change on an organizational level. 

Thanks for sharing you ideas and responses. . . and I genuinely appreciate the way you lay yourself on the line and take newcomer risks.  And yes, you can be a little wordy.

Kernel,

I have not yet encountered any persistently hostile persons or environments on this site.  I have spoken my mind and ended a conversation that had (in my opinion) stopped being productive, but I would not consider that conversation persistently hostile.  Was it your intention to be persistently hostile in that conversation?  If so I genuinely missed it.  So far that is the only remotely unpleasant conversation I've had since joining the site, and I found it unpleasant due to your choice to ignore several of what I consider valid points in favor of questioning my use of the pronoun "I".  I chose to end the conversation because I recognized that it was no longer about anything I wished to discuss.  I pointed out that I felt you were using an underhanded debate tactic (ignoring the content by criticizing presentation) and ended the conversation.

Whether or not I choose to participate in a conversation depends entirely on how much I feel like I can get out of it, how much the subject holds my attention, and how much I'm enjoying the discourse.  Do you think it is an act of weakness or cowardice to stop a conversation?  I don't personally see it that way.  I start and stop conversations all the time, just because I feel like it.  I felt that if you wanted to continue the conversation you would have let me know, then I could have continued or respectfully declined.  In fact you ended the conversation with what I read as an agreement that the conversation was indeed at an appropriate stopping point.

If there is another conversation that you are referring to, or some other instance in which you have seen me encounter "persistent hostility" I would be very curious to hear about it, as I apparently failed to notice it at the time.

You know, I deal with dishonesty and insincerity all the time, (I work at a prison) and it is a personal choice of mine to engage honestly.  While I acknowledge that many people (especially in an on-line environment) are not honest, and can pretend to have an emotional response that is contrary to their genuine feelings I also make a distinct choice to deal with the feelings that people choose to share.  I have been guilty (even with you) of speculating emotional causes to specific behaviors, for example when I said "If you don't feel personally comfortable sharing your feelings I can respect that."  I speculated that you felt uncomfortable with emotions.  You have now corrected my false assumption.  I can also respect your choice not to communicate emotionally for practical reasons.  You have not convinced me that there is no place for emotional expression in an on-line forum, but I respect your opinion.

When I refer to a personal philosophy, I don't mean a philosophy that I invented, I am referring to a philosophy that I subscribe to, by defining it at a personal one I am acknowledging that many others may not believe the same thing or think the same way.  Did you feel that I was trying to mislead people by claiming that I had invented this concept, that it was original only to me and to no one else? This was never my intention.  I was attempting to illuminate my reason behind feeling that debate (in this type of community) should be focused toward the honing and developing of personal beliefs and personal arguments (again for clarity, not the beliefs and arguments that were invented by the participants but the beliefs and arguments that the participants subscribe to and use).  Now again I really have to ask... are you not familiar with the use of the word personal in referring to something an individual associates with?  Do you genuinely feel that I used this term in a way that was misleading?  Because to be perfectly honest it seems to me like you are trying to create a semantic argument in place of an idea argument.  You can redefine every word that I use to make my meaning seem convoluted, but it doesn't change the nature of the ideas behind the words.  I am happy to clarify my ideas if you genuinely don't understand them, but you seem more like an intelligent individual using underhanded debate tactics, than a friendly and helpful conversationalist who genuinely doesn't understand the points that I am making.  If this is another false assumption on my part please clarify.  I have a hard time believing that you get very far as a Personal Growth Group facilitator if you have to stop your group every time someone uses the word personal, so that you can clarify whether or not their idea is really an original one, or if you find yourself so distracted by the use of the pronoun "I" that you can't keep track of the ideas being carried in the discussion.  I have engaged in enough debate to recognize that some people can cause a great deal of frustration in an opponent by intentionally misunderstanding many commonly used words.  The intention is usually to cause a person to lose confidence by making them feel that they are not capable of making themselves understood.  Or forcing them to backtrack in order to define one concept after another until they lose track of the point they were trying to make.  If there is another alternative to explain your need to focus on my use of the word personal in this context I'd love to know what it is.  Given the two options I proposed, I think it is most likely that you are being intentionally obtuse.

My feeling isn't based on intimacy (although nice attempt to try to turn the table on me using my own words... I do that myself from time to time) it is based on the overall tone of the conversations we shared together thus far, which incidentally I said already, and you quoted it so I'm trying to understand how you missed it.  I'll also point out a little inconsistency... it's the kind of thing that comes up in instances of insincerity.  Early on in this last post you said, "From what I think I know of Joy, he/she will disengage from persistently hostile persons or environments." Since I haven't been around very long there is really only one conversation you could be referring to in this statement and it was only between you and I.  So in that statement, you labeled yourself as persistently hostile toward me, and then you make issue with me questioning the sincerity of your warm welcome?   To clarify, which ones are your actual feelings, persistent hostility or warm and friendly welcome?  I was willing accept what appeared to be an insincere welcome because at that particular moment in time I didn't feel any motivation to make issue of your insincerity.  I don't know how that makes me sound though, why don't you tell me.

To quote Blaise Pascal, "The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter."

Thanks for your exposé Joy. 

. . . I'm interested to see what Sid does with the idea of "Peace Keeps".  What does he have in mind?  Or, was he engaging you in chat. 

From what I can figure out, organizations of any kind - be it the of a book, corporation, molecule or the universe itself - consists of Content, Structure and Governance.  In my opinion, this site has generated some exceptional content due to the participation from a diversity of exceptional people.  Structural problems, however, are apparent, for example, in the way the software was constructed and being administered (no nested conversations).  And, the lack of organizational differentiation and meaningful participant input channels results in a top-down only style of operation.  In terms of Governance, Sid is the first, as well as, final authority and "sole owner/operator" of the site. 

Joy, the hostilities under discussion took years to develop.  Because they went unresolved the site is in a state of collapse.  The urgent issue is for Sid to provide some vision and direction.  That's why I'm interested in why he brought up the term "peace keeper".  

Sid, were you simply trying to engage in conversation with Joy or do you have an idea you would like to share.  What do you have in mind. 

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