I have been flooded with comments about my earlier post “On a movement” (linked above). The vast majority have been very positive. The phrase “circular firing squad” seems to have stuck with a lot of people. Many people I have talked to can tell me vivid, intense traumatic stories of when they were verbally assaulted by someone in this movement for expressing their opinion, disagreeing with someone else or in some way violating someone else’s idea of political correctness. We are the champions of asking, no demanding that others listen to us and show us respect but although we talk the talk we do not walk the walk. “The circular firing squad” has been experienced in some way by enough people to make any other perception hard to defend.
We got a problem. The problem is us. Until we recognize it, acknowledge it, and try to deal with it I believe we will marginalize the impact we have on issues that are important to us. No one cares what people stand for that can’t stand each other. I have asked political people I know and that is exactly what they say.
I want to give a positive to Elizabeth Richter. I think her and I probably disagree on a whole host of issues but I strongly like a recent suggestion I heard her make. If I understood her correctly she suggests that things would be different if more of us had a no abuse policy. She says she is willing to make that pledge. To me what that means is I should feel safe to express my ideas and feelings on any subject as long as that expression is not a vehicle to attack the integrity, the motives or intentions of others. It is necessary and needed for me to be honest but I should know that it is safe for me to be so. Character assassination and name calling is not okay. People should also feel safe to disagree with me without me responding with personal attacks.
Some people may find such a notion as unneeded or even insulting, perhaps even unnecessarily preachy. Perhaps it is and I apologize to anyone who feels like it is a personal attack or in some way directed at them. It is not. I think it is an individual choice for everyone whether they think this is an appropriate or needed step and I fully support anybody’s decision to choose to look at things differently. For me my commitment is to express my opinions as honestly as I can and accept others feedback and opinions as best I can. I don’t need to be right and disagreement is OK and welcome. I will not accept personal attacks or abuse from anybody. I can promise others that it is safe to be honest around me that at no time even if I think they are grievously wrong will attempt to attack or injure them. Many of the people I know and trust the most disagree with me on issues important to me. Before we can ever expect more from the people outside this movement and how they respond to the issues we raise we must expect more from ourselves and each other.
I am taking the pledge. And I hope others will join.