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04-09-2003, 08:18 PM
Hi everyone,
I've hesitated in getting involved in the political discussions here as they seem to be wrought with emotion and aspersion.

I just wanted to put forth a humble suggestion from one who is too weary to jump into the fray. We all feel distress over some of the events in the last two+ years, and we all feel that action must be taken. This is all hard. I am often overwhelmed and don't know what is right. It seems that we are all saying 'the evil must stop' but we each have a different idea of what the evil is. So how do we discuss these things without creating more hostility?

I guess I'd like to request that everyone try to address the undertones of the discussion, to look beyond the obvious and even meretricious, and look to the inconspicuous, subtle undertones of a person's message. Not for the sake of winning an argument, but for addressing the spirit of their intent.

I have seen just about everyone attempt to pull out of the rhetorical 'muck' for a moment and try to write an even-keeled post about their view of these happenings. Bravo.

I have also seen just about everyone jump back into the muck when recieving a proverbial kick in the shin, which then reverberates. Darn. I know I'm guilty of this at times as well, but I try to correct it before I send out my response, I'll commit to keep trying.

I have read a few posts saying (essentially) that discussions like these are useless. I don't agree. I read but do not respond, but I still wrestle with what is said in my mind, as I feel it is important to not bury the subject.

There is an opportunity here. We have people coming to this forum with a common interest ( more than one in fact) and a common need to flesh out what they feel. <pregnant pause>

So if we take this opportunity and build on it, if we begin to listen as well as really reflect on what we are saying, there is much that can come out of it.

Maybe one way of finding constructive progress in this line of conversation is for everyone to take responsibility for the tone of discussion rather than blaming 'that other guy' who said that lame thing.

Also, look at the spirit of your own intent. Try to read the message as if it were addressed to you. Would you be affected by the tone? If you divest from, or reject another's message and are responding, ask yourself why. Is it to ridicule or to better understand?

Think of this as keiko. You may have seen at one time or another, two people training and not connecting. It's neither harmonious nor martially beneficial, it's just bumbling and grunting with no fruition. I have seen this at a few seminars. Ironic though, a place where people who don't know each other come together and attempt to interact, much like this forum.

So we don't have to micromanage people's opinions, but I think it's important to see that different perspectives contribute to a whole and have their place.

:ai: :) :ai:

04-10-2003, 12:19 AM
Nicely put.

04-11-2003, 01:39 AM
Nicely put.
Thanks Opher.

I guess I am hoping for, but not expecting a conversation about this. I am hoping that someone sends a 'yeah but' post or some such because many of us think logically that a conversation should have a level of respect, empathy, and decorum, yet it seems that we all cross the line.

I guess what I'm trying to start is an honest conversation about the origin of such actions, or maybe how we can identify the difference between mutually playful ascerbic witt, and jangled lashing out.

Plenty of us think we are looking at this as a outsider "Ah...yes it is too bad when people do this." but few of us are ready to tackle this as something that is a part of our own repertoire.

Now, if these types of conversations were happening a few years ago, when there wasn't such an emotional drama being piped in to our lives 24 hours a day, I might not feel such a need to put something like this on the proverbial table. I might just sigh.

I think, however that though overtly, events like September eleventh have past, this serial snyper(s) has been caught, and the battle in Iraq is on the other side of the planet, these things are really part of our lives and they weigh heavily (some more than others) on our hearts, or minds, or spirits.

So it makes that mutual respect thing more important.

Sometimes we see someone sending a post which really pushes a button and we react in such a strong way because we are reacting against that chaos or fear which is a response to all of the stuff going on in the world.

Today a friend leaned over and said "Hey did you hear that they found that the dead firefighters they pulled out of the World Trade Center had tons of money stuffed in their pockets..." and I turned and glared at this guy and said "No way dude, you are -=not=- going there, firefighters risk their lives daily to save the lives of others. Just don't even start with me." and I was so mad I couldn't concentrate for a while after that.

Now, I know this guy looks for corruption from any authority figure, and usually I smile and listen. Today however he touched on a subject that I am still quite upset about and I lashed out. The problem was that there was no growth from what I said. He didn't hear my perspective, and I didn't get to the root of why he feels a need to talk about this corruption.

Not that every conversation has to be a growth experience. But conversational eye gouging really has no real value unless there is an attempt to grow beyond it.

Sorry, back on track. What I am hoping for is to hear from the people who have been in the fray. I'd like to hear from slingers and the slingees.


04-11-2003, 10:55 AM
Well, I'll be surprised and pleased if anyone takes your bait.

To some extent the issues that you are bringing up have been discussed off and on in the course of those long emotion-laden threads "Anti-Americanism" and "Invasion of Iraq." It was not unusual to hear people say things like, "I apologize for not being as gentle as I should be, but it's the other person who is primarily at fault because he/she really got me going."

I think, generally, that there is a lot to be gained by noticing times when we miss opportunities to grow, like you point out. On the other hand, I feel that there is little to be gained by holding impossible ideals to firmly in front of our eyes. It prevents us from seeing what is actuaally going on and accepting the real limitations we have and others have. I feel like our approach should be less about how we should be talking to each other and more about how we are talking to each other.

I get the most out of Aikido when I can focus on how I'm actually doing the techniques and less on how they ought to be done.

Another thing that I've noticed is that it really is a problem localized to a small segment of the community. Most of the community just walks away when things get vituperative, figuring that if people want to fight there isn't a lot of harm in letting them fight. I see a lot of wisdom in this, although I can't say that I follow that path myself very often.

Les Kelso
04-11-2003, 03:52 PM
We Speak In The Way We Speak

for retribution..

for informing the uninformed

out of anger..

out of fear..

out of love..

out of boredom..

out of disgust..

to tittilate..

to inform..

to misinform..

to ridicule..

to perform..

to make others think we know something..

to make us think we know something..

to raise our esteem..

to lower others esteem..

to argue..

to agree..

to exercise our brains (or lack of same)

to exhibit..

to hide..

I'm sure many can think of many more reasons.

the key to fully understanding someones communication is to make an honest attempt at discovering what the speakers intentions are in delivering their message. Then make an honest assessment of why you want to reply in the manner you choose.....BEFORE you do it.

Oft times easier said than done..

Les Kelso

04-12-2003, 12:11 AM
Well, I'll be surprised and pleased if anyone takes your bait.
Sure, me too, though I'm not looking to hook a sucker or anything. I mean if you think of it, both you and Les Kelso responded. So there is a line of conversation starting, and maybe it'll get the readers to thinking.
To some extent the issues that you are bringing up have been discussed off and on in the course of those long emotion-laden threads "Anti-Americanism" and "Invasion of Iraq." It was not unusual to hear people say things like, "I apologize for not being as gentle as I should be, but it's the other person who is primarily at fault because he/she really got me going."
Right, and it's a step to apologize, but do you see the disowning when the 'but' comes in? Still more evolved than many discussions on other boards. Let me repeat that to make sure it's clear; saying 'I apologize for not being as gentle as I should be.' is a good thing.

It's good to discuss this in the moment, but sometimes in the moment, we look at the plant and call it a weed or whathaveyou, but we forget the soil which fosters it. What I mean to say is, we are all reacting and feeling, but what we are addressing is the overt, rather than the root. Am I making sense? Maybe I ramble... okay I do ramble, but maybe my ramblings might make points too.
<snip>On the other hand, I feel that there is little to be gained by holding impossible ideals to firmly in front of our eyes. It prevents us from seeing what is actuaally going on and accepting the real limitations we have and others have. I feel like our approach should be less about how we should be talking to each other and more about how we are talking to each other.
-=Yes=- I absolutely agree. I may not have come across as being against legislating language. I am. Lawyers are necessary for laws, but I prefer the spirit of the intent for community, or conversation.

What I'm trying to get at is that often I see people targeting others for aspersion because they are of a different opinion, or the targeted gets sucked into this verbal kicking tantrum and it all seems to be without fruit.

There's an opportunity there. I guess I'm holding out for others to begin to engage the possibility finding the root. I'm not suggesting that we meander through posts with stamps marked 'evil', 'abusive', or 'wrong'; that's doing the overt thing again. Instead, introspection or examination of why something like that comes out. Like my firefighter example. It's a sore subject for me, I feel a significant sense of loss. It's even hard for me to talk about it to those with a sympathetic ear. I don't think that my friend with conspiracy thoughts deserved my bark, so I apologized, but the important part for me is to address the root of my bark.
Another thing that I've noticed is that it really is a problem localized to a small segment of the community. Most of the community just walks away when things get vituperative, figuring that if people want to fight there isn't a lot of harm in letting them fight. I see a lot of wisdom in this, although I can't say that I follow that path myself very often.
Sure, you're right. Much like the constant play of violent or antipathetic acts constantly being discussed in the news. Really there are vastly more people who don't mug, rape, murder, or hit and run, than there are those who do.

The significant thing is though that we are all affected by these illustrations. I'm not going to point a finger at any of the flame-warriors and make them personally responsible for my emotional state. I can choose to not read. What I am trying to do is act as a -community- member and say 'Hey, what's going on? Let's figure this thing out.'

To me, just walking away means that one must turn their back. I guess I feel extra low to think that back turning is happening in the aiki-world. Now, this does not mean that engaging is compulsary. But I am engaging now, because I feel there is room for it.

Thanks again for engaging me in this line of conversation Opher.


04-12-2003, 12:13 AM
the key to fully understanding someones communication is to make an honest attempt at discovering what the speakers intentions are in delivering their message. Then make an honest assessment of why you want to reply in the manner you choose.....BEFORE you do it.

Oft times easier said than done..


04-13-2003, 11:48 AM
Hi Jaime, thanks so much for posting.

I was not going to post in here because I am afraid your noble attempt will be shattered once others see that I am here.
How noble would the attempt be if I threw up my hands and walked away if things got less than PC? Let's hope that if the discussion is about transforming the overt ad hominem and addressing what's underneath, when such attacks happen, we can adress them without such things becoming the vector for communication. Also, lets hope that you are not so villified as you think you are.
I submit to you I have much more so than most. I have been in effect called a war monger, someone who LIKES war, someone who should join the military or be quiet (not knowing my military past.) This was all within 1 day of my first post.
Not really an easy way to start a mutually respectful discussion eh? Sorry to hear you were hit with that stuff. I don't think that I caught that discussion. I understand that many of us have very strong feelings about these things, so when someone does not agree, it's sometimes a challenge to try to keep it even keeled.
Since then I have been insulted, told military service is not noteworthy, one poster pretends to be someone else so he can rhyme obscenities at me and now I get threats against myself and my family via e-mail on an almost daily basis. It has gone way past winning an argument and in my eyes the intent is clear.
Well, for what it's worth, I think all public service is noteworthy. As for this pretending poster, I think you can contact the host (hotmail, yahoo, msn etc.) and have the person traced. I think it's a federal offense to send threats over the net.
I admit I am no alterboy here. But I employ direct fire methods. I don't sugar coat it or try to hide it behind passive aggressive statments. These are personal attacks all the same... Yes in my eyes this is where intent comes into play.
So, I'm a little unclear about the above statement. Just to clarify; by being not an alterboy and employing direct fire methods, are you saying that you are making statements about the situation (war, terrorism, etc.) or about the people who disagree with you?
I think you have good intentions here but I am afraid that it may be to late. I am all open for your ideas but what I see in the undertones is not pretty.
It's never too late, neither is it very often pretty. Even the highest mountain can be successfully climbed, you just need to have a lot of oxygen, and preparation. (uh, that was kind of cheesy, I'll claim stream of consciousness)

Really Jaime, thanks for keeping this subject going.

:ai: :) :ai:

04-13-2003, 10:21 PM
Hey Jaime,

Thanks for getting involved. I know that you've been pretty upset about how things have gone, and I appreciate your willingness to stay involved.

In the context of the current discussion, there is an (honest) question that I've been wanting to ask you. I've heard you say a number of times that you feel that you've been attacked (which I'm not questioning, I'm just emphasizing the feeling), that you feel that your some of your responses have also been hostile, and that you feel, on the whole, that the way you've been attacked explains, if not justifies, the hostile responses.

I'm not questioning or attacking any of those statements. My question is a little different. What I'd like to know is whether, if you could have, you would have preferred to respond differently.

I also have more questions, but they depend on what you answer to the first one.

If you would have preferred to respond differently, I'd like to know how you would have preferred to respond, and what you see as the advantage of what you would have preferred over what you did.

If, even upon reflection, you feel the hostile responses were the most appropriate, my question would be: why?

I hope you don't see these questions as presumptuous or aggressive in any way. I've been wanting to hear from you for a while about this, and I've felt a little shy about asking such questions. If, in any way, you feel that they are out of place, I apologize and withdraw them.

04-15-2003, 03:56 PM
For 20+ posts I tried to get one such poster to engage me in debate. He made hypocritical remarks (which I consolidated and posted after that chapter) as to why I was beneath discussing and debating issues with him. One of his excuses was that I used Fox news as a source. I responded by questioning the neutrality of one of his sources that the board of advisors included hollywood types such as Susan Sarandon and other anti-American left. That is when he went balistic and I had to adapt my strategy. Remeber at this time it was all still fun.

As to the approprateness of the responses. Have you seen me respond in this manner to anyone else besides those select few or have I been civil and engaging? NO ONE was reponding to these loud individuals and they were soapboxing I retaliated in kind as it seemed most people were not capable of dealing with them the only way that would work.So, what I read in what you're saying is that you adopted what you call 'direct attacks' only when you felt that your partner in discussion had not responded to every effort at other ways of communicating. In this sense, you see them not as a failure on your part to behave as you would like, but rather as a reasonable choice in the circumstances. In some ways I can see the logic of that. I wonder, though, what you meant by saying (in another thread) that you felt you took 'some of the blame' for how the discussion had gone. If you felt your responses were appropriate given the circumstances, where is the blame?

I think you misunderstood what I meant by the follow up question. When I asked about appropriateness, I wasn't questioning that you had been very specific in your choices. I also see, from your post, what sort of things led you to those choices. However, the thing I'm still curious about is why those are the right choices for that particular situation. Maybe I could ask it better this way: what, specifically, did you hope to achieve by using 'direct attacks' and why are direct attacks the best way to achieve this? An incidental question, of course, would be whether you felt you had, in fact, achieved what you wanted as a result of those choices.

If I'm walking on eggshels, Jaime, it is not exactly because I'm worried about 'pissing you off' (although I wouldn't particularly want to do that). I think of it as akin to a real love I have for doing techniques really slowly, trying to pay attention to every little detail of what is going on. By bringing this utmost concern and awareness to how I conduct this discussion, I think I'm hoping I myself will be learning more.

04-15-2003, 10:36 PM
Hey again Jaime :)

I've read your new posts and I have found myself drifting from my original intent. Let me clarify. As I read, I begin to want to ask why a particular tactic is used, or what is gained. This is again the overt part of what I was takling about so I'm going to try to step back from that and read your posts again. What I'm curious about is that which moves you. Certainly, that which moves others as well, but we can only address those who have chosen to participate. This includes me too. :)

Maybe I'm pre-empting a more well phrased, cogent question (little sleep, 3 overdue papers done, many hours of work/school), but why this discussion?

What about the subject makes you feel a need to stand your ground?

Would it be different if these people who engage you were in the same room? Or if they were part of your family?

So as I type I understand that these questions might seem a little pointed, I'm happy to answer these as well, though I haven't been part of the (Iraq) discussion.

I can maybe give you an answer to one of these questions for myself. My cousin started an email list for the family right after Sept 11, so that we could communicate our feelings about what was happening. It became very clear that there were polar sides to the 'action' opinion and it soon escalated to a flame war between my father and another cousin. It was hard for me to read, as these guys were family. Being that they were family, I found myself trying to engage, though others tuned them out. I did find that we spent more time on the anger between dad and cuz than we did on how we felt (internally) about the tragedy and what we could actually do about it in order to contribute to the betterment of our community. Like giving blood, sending money, starting a first-aid class or registering with the Red Cross as a disaster volunteer.

So of course this was a different situation, but I think my response might be a little different if it weren't family, but sometimes I wonder why.

Okay, now that I've written this I'm remembering that I am tired, so I might rephrase this a little better later. It may make more sense the second time.

:ai: :) :ai:

04-16-2003, 03:44 PM
Jaime, you said a mouthful.

There's so much I want to reflect on and respond to.

Right now I'm cheating myself out of research time and I'm heading for a deadline. I want to set time aside for this, but I've got to do a little work first.

Forgive me if I stall here, but I will respond.


04-17-2003, 12:15 PM
As I read, I begin to want to ask why a particular tactic is used, or what is gained.I think I answered this well in my last post. I will expound on this as I can. If you could be more specific i will try to answerI just went back and re-read what you'd said in that post, where you were answering me after I'd asked pretty much the same question. I want to make sure I understood it right.

What I got out of reading it again is that you felt like your tactic was the best way to prevent Neil from intimidating others through the threat of complaints. In a sense, if I understand correctly, the goal was to help create an environment where people closer to your point of view felt comfortable posting without intimidation. Is that right?

You also say that pride was involved. You say that pride is an uncomfortable word among Aikidoka, but you also seem fairly comfortable with its role. In fact, if I'm reading the 'emotions' of your post properly (and that's always hard to do in these forums), you still have a lot of pride in the way you've faced the threats. You see bravery and strength in how you've conducted yourself.

I guess that brings me back to the question of your mea culpa. You say that you are also to blame, but in your posts I don't read very much regret. Am I missing it? I sort of remember you answering this briefly earlier in the thread but I can't find it now. Maybe you could talk about this, and the way it interacts with what you see as the positive side of your behavior.

One thing that I would ask, though, is that you put less time and energy into describing the innapropriate behavior of the other side. While I recognize that this is an important part of what was driving you, I'm willing ot accept that without the details. In many senses, I have no complaints about your behavior and no criticisms of it. There is no need, therefore, to convince me that the behavior of the other justifies your behavior. Indeed, it strikes me as slightly disrespectful to be criticizing someone who has chosen not to participate in the discussion, although clearly there are points where it will be unavoidable in explaining your experience.

04-30-2003, 01:39 AM
One thing I think people forget is that we are under attack. I did not think for a moment that anyone took the September 11th attacks for granted. But on these forums I see that some do now. (from the other board I have not seen it here yet). Some people can not grasp this reality.
I agree that we all have a different understanding of where we are right now. There is something else that I see in this; that some of us experience a different impact depending on our past and our proximity.

I must tell you that it is very difficult for me to address the tragedy of the World Trade Center. There are many dimensions of feelings that I experience in this. One of them is that I used to be a firefighter. When I was in that job, I was hired mainly for my skills in emergency medical treatment, and this was my passion in the beginning, but I couldn't pick and choose which calls I wanted to go on and soon I was drawn to the firefighting aspect as well. I must tell you that I experienced all sorts of people who called themselves firefighters. Some were hunters, politicos, students, and even a druid (my FAO). Some were racist, sexist, and just plain jerks. Some were amazingly empathetic, poetic, or artistic. The most common theme though was their compulsion to save.

When we heard a call get broadcast like ' infant unresponsive...CPR in progress.' we all had this want in our hearts to get there faster than humanly possible. I remember that we used to joke sometimes when we heard the tones go out over the radio; we'd say 'Code 1000' in jest, almost to ward it off. A code 1000 was a plane crash. It was the worst mass casualty incident we could think of.

Never in my wildest nightmares could I create the events on Sept. 11. I can't imagine that ride in on the engine trying too think of how I should prepare myself.

The hard part for me is knowing that strong want to rescue those in peril, knowing that automatic response of 'I'm ready to do what's necessary.'

In our day-to-day lives we see so many examples of how people avoid stepping up to the plate, so many people say 'somebody do something' and yet they would never bother to volunteer.

There were so many reasons to be horrified by that day, but for me, the strongest was that several hundred firefighters, police, port authority officers and others stepped up to the plate. Whether they be jerks or saints, they had this one noble want to save that I have felt. They may as well have been the very firefighters and rescue workers with whom I sweated, strained, laughed and cried with when I was doing the job. Really, I don't know how anyone can get this, but I felt like I lost people I knew that day, even though I didn't know their names, I felt I knew their hearts. There was a decimation of nobility of heart that day.

As much as I listen to others talk about the tragedy, I feel like they don't even know. And I wasn't there. If you witnessed it, I'm sure it struck hard. That must've been surreal for a while.

I meant to address the difference or 'lighter' impression that others might have of it, but I feel too that I should stop myself from doing that because I can't put myself in their place. I am tempted to discuss the separation of heart some of the population experiences by watching true-crime shows and things like 'cops'. That many of us become dulled to the reality of physical and emotional trauma. These are the things in my heart and my mind, but I can't say that i know anything of it. I can't pretend to understand it and I don't know if it applies, but sometimes I draw that conclusion.

With this in mind however, I think it is important to consider that some people have a different response to the trauma. Some people take a different path, even though they feel hurt. Some choose introspection and assessment of possible shared responsibility, and some choose to take a political path which does not involve the military.

Pardon me while I tap dance away from the discussion of who's perspective is the more legitamate one. I'd like to stay away from it for now to keep the topic on the less overt.
I had friends and family who died or were involved in rescue. I watched the second tower get hit by that plane I watched both towers come down. The sound was so loud and I was a few miles away. I did not watch this from the comfort of CNN. I watched it from the middle of my street. I was actually supposed to be on the 53 floor of the Empire State building that morning but goofed off a bit.
Man, Jamie. That must've been hard. I don't know that I can ever say I empathise (not having been there), but I'd like to say I'm sorry.
This is war. They are attacking us by unconventional means and no action or inaction other that taking the fight to them is going to stop it.
Yeah, I wish I could say that I felt I knew the answer with such conviction. I don't. Don't misunderstand me though. I agree that any attacks by such means must stop. I'm not saying that military action is the wrong action. I think that sometimes it is. I just feel so immersed amongst the trees that I can't see the forest and I don't know which is the right decision.
National guard Humvees with m-60s on top came screaming down the streets escorting fire engines. My wife and my mother both nurses tried to get into the city to help. I headed to the city along with thousands of others to to try to help anyway we could in this warzone.
I can't imagine how unreal that must've felt.
They didn't show the bodies falling (jumping) from the toweres and the loud crack they made when they hit the pavement on TV (some specials aluded to it or let you hear the sound).
I think it was on the cover of Newsweek that I saw an image of those who chose to jump, and I wish I never caught that glimpse. I can't imagine experiencing it first hand.
This has become my reality. This has become a lot of peoples reality in this area. I am in the middle of a war. That is were I am coming from.
I'm sure that you've experienced something that most of us will never know. A reality that we can only view askew, from the outside.
I did not mean to go off on this tangent I hope it gives you a little background into my resolve.
I didn't see a tangent. The background is closer to what I'm trying to address. That which is less in the foreground, less overt.
What I do not like is those who use this and other things like this to launch into a soapbox sermon. Those who look down thier nose at the opposition, who think that because they are activists I am not worthy of thier time.
Well I guess you are an activist of sorts Jamie. :p You have been very active on this forum.

I guess sometimes I have time for the soapboxes and sometimes not. When I have time, I offer the soapbox to friends with the proviso that I can reflect and ask questions in order to make it a 2-way conversation. Otherwise it isn't really co-munication.

Thanks for taking the time to type out your thoughts on this Jamie, sorry it took so long for me to respond.