Consecutive Days Riding: 113 Days Blogged: 99
New Mileage: 16 Total Trip Mileage: 833
Over the past several days I have mulled the question: Should I make a response to comments about my last posting or just let them go and move on? On Saturday I offered an apology to a group of Christians who were sending audio Bibles to the people of Haiti. I apologized, as a lack of information on my part lead me to make unfounded accusations about their motives. I still have concerns about the usefulness of their activities and whether that money might be better spent buying shelter for homeless Haitians before the approaching rainy season. But that is their choice.
A number of people responded to the blog posting, many with positive feedback and a few with concerns and criticism. In particular, one commentator who had made accusations earlier about “atheist hypocrisy” concerning my criticism toward the group supplying the audio Bibles, sent me a follow-up comment. I hoped he might follow my lead and offer an apology to those whom he lumped together under an “atheist” heading and lambasted with negative statements. I hoped he might hear my message about the need to find common ground and pull out of the dichotomous thinking and the win-lose conflicts. But what I received from him was a self-righteous “gottcha” comment in which he accused me of presenting a logical fallacy. There was no comment about my call to find common ground, or to consider the long-term consequences of our statements and actions. Just a ratcheting up of the tit-for-tat conflict.
I spent a bit of time yesterday speaking to a philosophy professor at my university. We had a long discussion that culminated in the conclusion that arguments which feature accusations of hypocrisy are almost always circular, and in the end the process of the discussion degrades into entrenched positions. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who has always been consistent in what they say and how they act. We all change our minds at some point and we all have experiences that cause us to retract an earlier position. I made a statement in one blog and apologized in another. Does that make me a hypocrite? Does that make me wishy-washy and inconsistent? Or does that point to a process of gathering new information and trying to refine one’s beliefs. Doesn’t it speak to a process of finding the position that best fits the facts, but leaves itself open for new possibilities?
I find myself reiterating my earlier position that we must look for ways to find common ground. Dichotomous thinking and win- lose situations always lead to stalemates and increased friction. A friend suggested that I should just ignore this individual and delete their comments. I thought about it but isn’t that similar to what we accuse them of doing when they label us “nonbelievers” and ignore our comments? I’m reminded of the words of wisdom and calm behaviors emulating from two profound sources. The first is from the Dali Lama, who, even when faced with representatives of the people, who have taken away his country, never loses his cool or ceases to see them as individuals worthy of respect and compassion.
The second is an unlikely source of wisdom on such matters: my youngest son. I once picked him up from a weekend Cub Scout event. As I pulled up, I saw him sitting quietly under a tree in a meditative stance. After we drove away I asked him about his meditation, he commented that before I arrived several scouts from a prominent Christian denomination had asked him what he was doing. After he explained to them that he was meditating they told him that he was “going to hell.” I asked him about his response and he calmly noted “I just smiled and said: if that’s what you believe, that’s what you believe” and then he returned to his meditation.
He continues to be the happy, smiling, joyful youth that he is. I will follow his lead and continue to be a pilgrim. I will continue on my path and continue to share my joys and my concerns, regardless of what others think. If I was to do anything else, I wouldn’t be honest with myself. That honesty and the sharing of my beliefs is, I believe, the most critical part of my life journey Thank you for being part of that journey and allowing me to share it with you!.
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