Saturday, January 1, 2011

0 Including the Middle

This was passed on to me in email. The original author's name is Lon Sarver, so credit goes to him and not me. 

Including the Middle

That there is no One True Way does not mean that all ways are equally valid, or that there are no false ways.  Similarly, there may be no one thing that works for everyone, but it does not follow that therefore, everything works for someone.  There are things that don’t work for anyone.

Just because you are a free adult, and do not require my consent to engage in whatever it is that you do (assuming it doesn’t impact me or mine), this does not mean that I have to agree that whatever you’re doing is a good thing.  Even less does it mean I have to approve, or withhold criticism.

I can’t tell you that you don’t like or enjoy something.  I can tell you that, in my experience or understanding, something is actually, objectively harmful.  I can’t tell you that you and other consenting adults cannot do whatever it is you’re consenting to do, but I can object when I see collateral effects impacting me or mine.

You see the distinction, yes?  I’m not arguing tastes, or debating rights in the abstract.  I’m questioning whether or not you’ve thought this through, whether or not you understand the unintended consequences of your actions. 

Consent is not a magic spell to negate ill effect, nor is tolerance or pluralism a barrier that prevents what you do over there from affecting me over here.  Hell, the more interconnected society becomes, the more likely I am to be impacted by people I never meet.  We can argue the extent of this, but not (I think) the fact of it.

So here’s the deal:  I won’t tell you what or who to like, or what’s best for you.  I won’t ask you to tailor your tastes or preferences to defer to mine.  I will tell you if I think you’re factually wrong, or if what you’re doing doesn’t seem to match up with the reasons why you’re doing it.  Feel free to tell me to butt out.  Hopefully, I’ll do it with grace.

If I’m saying that what you’re doing is somehow harmful, trust that I’m not judging you on some measure of Good or Evil, Worthy or Worthless.  Try and take it in the spirit of questioning the effects of your actions, not your intentions.  I’ll probably be a bit more stubborn, here, in proportion to how much I feel that my life is impacted by those effects.  We may not agree on that, but at least let’s agree on what we disagree about.

Any thoughts on this? 


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