Proposed Ground Rules
Dec 27, 1994 06:57 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
Having been gone for four days, I expected to find a series of
messages about the mess I left behind on theos-l. First things
first-- of course I forgive you Liesel, and it doesn't matter any
more. Except that it does matter in that as Heraclitus says "the
way up is the way down" meaning in this case that it is a good
idea to figure out how to avoid such imbroglios in the future.
Thus, there is a need to be explicit about what is being
forgiven, and what I hope won't happen again.
My lengthy post entitled "In Search of Agreement" was exactly
that. The intention was to summarize the controversy raging
around CWL from the perspectives of both sides, making it clear
that I viewed both as unbalanced. This would, I hope, serve as a
diagnosis of the problem preparatory to discussing ways to move
forward towards resolution. This was taken by Liesel as a
partisan attack on CWL, with my summary of the extreme anti-CWL
position taken as my own view. That inspired personal hostility
expressed in her response in several passages. I had observed
this before in the initial "keep a civil tongue in your head"
rebuke of my allusion to the Krishnamurti messiah craze inspired
by CWL and others. And had risen above it with a conciliatory
response the first time. "Not taking it personally" the second
and third time was beyond my capacity, for which I apologize.
What I forgive, (and apologize for reciprocating) but want us to
agree not to do again, is the descent into personal hostility.
Basically, what I get from Liesel's repeated hostility is the
message "because you say things I don't like to hear, you're an
evil person and I hate you and you deserve to be hurt." (And
even-- you're not intelligent.) This is especially hard to take
when you are in the process of attempting to reach out to
someone. Storming out the door, slamming it, and saying "I'm
cutting off all communication with you" really does give the
impression of "blaming the messenger." Thus my post on phobic
reactions. It conveyed both an accusation and an implicit
message of forgiveness.
What it meant was, the fact that CWL actually confessed to the
behavior that has always been dismissed by his fans as `vicious
lies' is so intensely painful to contemplate, that the distaste
for the thought is transferred to the stimulus that inspired it.
In this case, to me for bringing it up. It hurts to be hated,
and especially as a result of trying to improve communication and
approach understanding. But what I was trying to say in that
post was that the hate I was feeling from Liesel was displaced
from another object-- the thought of CWL's possible guilt-- and
that in avoiding communication with me she was avoiding that
thought. Having been hated by a few HPB partisans for bringing
up the dread possibility that the truth about the Masters isn't
quite as she presented it, I should by now be able to keep
smiling through expressions of personal hostility. But in fact,
caring as much about Theosophy as I do, I am quite vulnerable to
such expressions. Which some of you on theos-l have helped me
deal with before-- thanks Eldon, Richard, Ron. What I vow to try
ever harder to do is not identify as the target of anyone's
wrath, and to remember that what they are attacking is their own
understanding of me-- which I can only help correct by remaining
unhurt and calm.
The ground rules I propose to prevent future spinouts is that all
discussion of history, doctrines, whatever, be completely free
and open, with an agreement that no one try to stifle other
people's communication. It's OK for one person to say to another
"I don't want to go into this any further." But it isn't OK for
me to say "person A and person B, stop communicating about
subject C because it bothers me." Groundrule number two should be
that disagreement on facts, theories, values, or anything else
can be expressed with complete openness, but with respect for the
other's right to disagree. Finally, no substantive disagreement
should give rise to disparaging personal remarks, exclamations,
etc., as this undermines the raison d'etre of the list.
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