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14 November 2011

Choosing Honey

There's an anecdote that often rings pertinent - "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Here's a fact: it's not just an anecdote - it's true.
Preferably, You'll employ Local, Raw Honey
I peruse and engage in a gaggle of communities and pages on the FaceBook - Natural Parents Network, The Leaky B@@b, The Feminist Breeder, The Whole Network, amongst others and many a-blogger. I have a very diverse group of friends - some married, many single, some with children,  some trying to conceive, some with children no where in their future, some with college educations, some who dropped out or never had it in their plans to go... You get it, I have a bunch of friends. Point being, I've seen some disconcerting behaviour as of late, ranging from mildly humourous yet mildly offensive to downright inappropriate for humane discourse, both online in various forums and in "real life" with my friends.

For the April Carnival of Natural Parenting, I wrote about what I called "The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy." I would like to reiterate what I posted before - Whenever we are engaged in advocating and standing up for our beliefs, respect is immensely crucial. It is central. Of course, having sound reason and practicing your preachings are important, also.

The internet is a difficult medium to transcribe feelings and conversational intent. A comment in jest can quickly take a turn for the worse and end up seriously offending someone. A statement meant in good faith can seriously hurt someone's feelings. Banter does not help one's cause, nor does name-calling, making personal attacks, putting people in the spotlight, or creating non sequitur arguments. Sometimes the truth of a matter can be harsh, and there are many hot button issues that are constantly pressed (Cesarean Sections, Discipline of Children, Circumcision, Home Births, Animal Cruelty, Responsible Living).

We're all adults, right? We all have beliefs, arguments, knowledge, and value, right? We all have feelings, right? Let's try to be mindful of what we say and maintain an air of respect above all. Speak (or type, as it may be) with intent to add value, not degrade. Seek opportunities to educate, not argue. Turn your cheek, take the high road, gently and respectfully discuss. When you are offended, avoid creating a blowout. Opinions and personal knowledge are crucial to further discussions, but without respect, a discussion can easily turn into a one-way street, leading to frustration, hurt feelings, and anger for those involved. Let's try to use a little honey when getting our points across instead of relying on the acidic bite of vinegar to scar it in. 

As Thumper recanted, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all." (Despite the double - triple? - negative, the point rings clearly).

Foster communities. Foster discussion. Foster respect.

Let's get along. What do you think? Tell me what we can do to foster discussion and respect. Share in the comments or on the FaceBook.
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2 comments:

  1. I think you're right, although it's not always easy when discussing emotive subjects. I'm trying to be mindful of this lately - sometimes I think my strong emotions on certain subjects put people off discussion with me.

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  2. I agree - it can be so difficult to keep emotions at bay and have reasonable conversations, especially when both or all parties have strong emotions invested in the subject matter. Unfortunately, if we can't as a whole learn to peacefully converse, none of us will get anywhere, and I think we end up doing a greater deal of damage to our causes. Sometimes, we need to learn when to walk away, too, before we get explosive. I know I've been working on this myself - Calming down, walking away when necessary, asking to continue the discussion at another time...

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