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Re: [BKARTS] Politics, Religion and Is it art?

I was going to jump into this earlier with a request that we remember the
subject of the list but I realized that the posts to that point had been
useful, at least to me, by mentioning a number of reference works that I
found of interest.  However, I find it difficult to sift any constructive or
educational tidbits out of the rants, attacks, and arguments that are now
our daily fodder.

I am a subscriber to a range of list servs and must say that this is by far
the most argumentative, nit-picky, and downright nasty list I have ever been
involved with.  When I consider not just the most recent posts, but others
of the same sort in the past, and ask myself why this list has such a
tendency to generate personal attacks and long diatribes, my best guess is
that this list has a larger proportion of highly educated intellectuals than
my other lists.

As a person who was raised with encouragement to engage in verbal sparring
at the dinner table, I must admit that in my younger days I found most
people rather stupid and boring.  As a result, I tended to treat people in a
manner that is quite similar to these diatribes on the list - with utter
confidence in my essential "rightness" and equally great disrespect for and
impatience with any opposing opinions.

I am older now.  I have lived long enough to be embarrassed by a great many
of my previous "obviously correct" conclusions and to realize that
perspective is indeed as important as the story of the blind men and the
elephant asserts.   Have you never had an experience which made you aware of
how narrow minded and simply inexperienced (clueless!) you were when you
developed some strong opinion?  When it comes to such things as politics,
religion and art, the "right" answer to questions often vary from person to
person and recognition of that fact permits us to hold to our own
conclusions while respecting the opinions of others.  It is possible to
discuss or debate the issues without disrespecting other people, being
sarcastic, and throwing out personal attacks.  All that it takes is the
recognition that we might - just might - be wrong about the issue at hand,
or at least wrong about it with regard to another person.  It is even
possible that we are wrong about some "historical fact" since all historical
records, no matter how scholarly, have major vulnerabilities with regard to
inaccurate information.

So, can we please return to subject matter that is constructive and useful?
And can we do so with respect for all and the ability to disagree with grace
and good humor?

Margie Fenney

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