Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Civility or no? That is the question

Simcha Fisher writes about going in with a blaze and ripping people new doughnut holes in the name of the Faith.  While I've certainly shot my mouth off in combo boxes and posting things I'd rather have back, I have noticed that there is also some merit to launching a rhetorical salvo.

Civility is my default stance, at least I attempt to make it my default stance.  Despite hostility encountered in a variety of online forums, I do think I can maintain an even keel.  When this can be maintained on both sides, this often leads to rewarding and valuable exchanges of information.

I have come to realize however that civility in this uncivilized age can also be interpreted as "weak."  Our society longs for civility yet lacks the discipline and the charity necessary for such to happen.  So when civility is engaged in on one side,  this is seen as an invitation to attack.

My experience with civility is that unless both sides participate, it simply will not happen.  It takes two to tango.  Civility is much the same.

Ironically enough I have found that while we should devote our energies to charity there are times when the rhetorical salvo is also necessary.  It is as if it is a separate language and a response lacking insults and demeaning remarks is unintelligible to some people.

I think there is some connection between this age's connection between feelings about beliefs and the truth of such.  Our "rational" age is replete with emotions substituting for conviction based on reason.  So unless one side feels insulted, the side assumes that the other does not take their ideas seriously.

Sadly I have found that I make much more progress initially not when I calmly point out that a materialist atheist in the Dawkins mold is wrong about Aquinas' 2nd way but when my response is much more "Hey moron, you don't have a clue what you are talking about."  It's depressing but it does work.

To me I think the trick is that we have to alternate between the two.  I find the most productive manner is to assume civility, yell when necessary, then revert to civility when the point has been made.  It is bizarre, but it does work.

Then there are those who cannot separate their emotions from the rational discussion of beliefs.  Those who emotions are so tied up in their beliefs that reason is impervious to them.  For these, reason is not how they got to their beliefs, but reason is used post hoc to justify the emotional based belief.  For these reason is useless, because reason is not how they got to their current beliefs.  These we can only pray for.  

No comments: