Friday, August 26, 2005

Writing and "Real Life"

by Skald

Writing seems to bring out the strongest and most extreme opinions. Its a strange phenomenon.

I constantly find that what I write is much stronger than what I say,... while I usually qualify my spoken beliefs, I rarely do when writing.

On one hand, this is good. Qualified or ambiguous writing tends to be weak. Better to state the case directly and without hesitation.

But its a dangerous thing. Without the benefit of facial gestures, tone of voice, and other clues... its easy to misinterpret writing. Hell, its easy enough to misinterpret spoken language.

Thus... I constantly find that I "contradict" myself. The truth is, I often hold two opposing views on a subject at the same time. I can accept them both as, simultaneously, true and false, right and wrong... both and neither.

The world, in truth, is extremely complex. The Western notion of dividing everything into dualities... of firm "right" and "wrong"... "black" and "white"... is childish and immature and at complete odds with the infinitely complext reality we live in.

What makes fundamentalists so dangerous... be they Christian, Jewish, or Muslim... is that they radically oversimplify the world. They insist on an extremely narrow worldview and simply ignore or attack facts that contradict it.

The most frustrating and dangerous thing of all is that you cannot reason with these people. Most people prefer to live and let live. Most would like to practice toleration and let the fundamentalists live as they choose.

But the problem is, they turn our tolerance against us. They do not give us the same consideration... rather, they attempt to attack, regulate, harass, and bully us. They pass laws to try to force us, at police gunpoint, to live as they do (or profess to :) They seek to restrict what we can read, see, listen to, and injest.

And so they put us in a dilemma. Though we prefer to live and let live, they will not let us. The trick, then, is to defend ourselves while maintaining our values. In other words, we must be able to fight these people without becoming like them... without becoming equally angry, rigid, and dogmatic.

Its not an easy thing to do. Its not easy to practice grace under pressure. Or to be compassionate in the face of harassment. Or to smile at those who insult you.

Yet that is the best way.... in the end we need strength, tolerance, AND compassion... the are ALL necessary.

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