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Winning and losing

Jul 12, 1996 06:19 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

Now seems to be a time of opportunity to reflect on what
changes in theos-xxx discussions might make them more truly
theosophical in spirit and tone.  I that Theosophical
discussions are all too often quite untheosophical.  Meaning
that people who study Theosophy often fail to demonstrate that
their communications are illuminated by mystical insight, and
rise above the combative, possessive kama-manas.

The worst thing for me about this list has been the occasional
prevalence of aggressive win/lose confrontations of different
viewpoints.  The best thing has been the occasional confluence
of mutually enlightening information and perspectives among
people with... different viewpoints.  The crucial factor that
determines which way we go is the win/lose approach as opposed
to a win/win approach.

Lately, the lists have been a constant battlefield in which
disagreement on issues has evoked harshly negative personal
attacks.  There have certainly been rounds of this in the past,
and no one seems to have figured out how to nip these things in
the bud.  Now, while there's a lull in the fighting, I think it
might help us to ask ourselves what we have just been through
and how to avoid it in the future.

My chief observation here is that a minority of Theosophists
feel that they MUST WIN in all encounters with variant ways of
thinking about HPBTheosophy or theosophy.  How people choose to
fight varies widely; one by endless nitpicking, another by
no-holds-barred aggression, another by patronizing and
condescending, and so on.  But the bottom line is "Your
[understanding of] Theosophy/theosophy is a threat to mine,
which cannot be allowed to coexist with it, and must be
(emphatically or subtly) refuted in public by me."  What happens when
someone with this outlook "wins"?  Meaning, feels that they
have effectively silenced someone by aggressive communication?
In reality, they have LOST, lost all opportunity of a mutually
enlightening and helpful discussion.  All the people who left
this list in the last few months due to the win/lose dynamics
would probably agree on this.  And what happens when someone
"loses"-- by saying in effect, "OK, whatever you say is fine, I
give up, arguing with you is hopeless, you `win' and I'll
devote no more effort to trying to communicate?"  In some sense
they "win" by doing so-- in terms of freeing them from a
negative emotional state.

To be continued? (Interrupted)

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