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Switch to Forum Live View Practicing Courtesy on Beliefnet
3 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2011 - 7:46PM #1
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

When it comes to kindness and courtesy, I find myself struggling and stumbling every so often here on Beliefnet. It is very difficult to live up to the standards of courtesy set by Baha'u'llah, whilst I keep finding them very inspiring. What are your views on courtesy and kindness in Beliefnet? What does it mean and should there be any point at which, for the sake of fairness, we should speak our honest thoughts bluntly, even at the risk of offending someone? Be you a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, Jewish, Baha'i or atheist, please share us your words of wisdom? Feel free to share verses from your scriptures too.

This is what Baha'u'llah has revealed on the matter:

"If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding...." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 289)

"No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. This showeth the significance of the Word as is affirmed in all the Scriptures, whether of former times or more recently. For it is through its potency and animating spirit that the people of the world have attained so eminent a position. Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people."

"The Great Being saith: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets. Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world."

"Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station."

"O friend of mine! The Word of God is the king of words and its pervasive influence is incalculable. It hath ever dominated and will continue to dominate the realm of being. The Great Being saith: The Word is the master key for the whole world, inasmuch as through its potency the doors of the hearts of men, which in reality are the doors of heaven, are unlocked." (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 172-173)



"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 3:44AM #2
Ironhold
Posts: 11,583

With me, it varies.


If a person is new, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.


Especially so if they copy-and-paste the usual anti-Mormon diatribes; most people don't realize that the regular anti-Mormon arguments floating around are largely bupkiss.


If, however, a person is a regular and *still* tries to press the same tired arguments, then I reserve the right to play hardball.

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 6:50AM #3
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

Dec 12, 2011 -- 3:44AM, Ironhold wrote:


With me, it varies.


If a person is new, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.


Especially so if they copy-and-paste the usual anti-Mormon diatribes; most people don't realize that the regular anti-Mormon arguments floating around are largely bupkiss.


If, however, a person is a regular and *still* tries to press the same tired arguments, then I reserve the right to play hardball.




Sounds like a worthwhile policy. There's also the skill (which I'd love to learn) of remaining silent when it has become abundantly clear that the other party is only out to provoke a response rather than to discuss. For some it is easy, for others it requires a great exercise of self-restraint. :)


Speaking of self-restraint and courtesy, this is how the British Baha'i comedian Omid Djalili describes false courtesy and self-restraint in the Persian culture. ;)

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 8:53AM #4
Ironhold
Posts: 11,583

I've been doing apologetics work since around 2000, and so I've had some experience dealing with all sorts of hostile parties; I once even dealt with a minister who turned me into his own personal bogeyman because he couldn't defeat me.


A good chunk of it is simply having experience in interpersonal communications. If you work with people often enough, then you can start to notice patterns, characteristics, personality trends, and other items that will help you deal with a person.


Being an MBA candidate, I've also had specific instruction in regards to face-to-face conduct; this includes a "personal marketing" class wherein a large part of my grade came from delivering a successful sales pitch for a random object to one of my classmates. This gives me something of an edge, as I can generally switch styles back and forth now as I feel it's warranted.


Going to college has also led me to appreciate the merits of research and proper academic citations. I'm being truthful when I say that the papers I've had to compose were more thoroughly and exhaustively researched than some professionally-published anti-Mormon literature I've seen floating around.


Ultimately, though, it's all about getting out there and doing things.

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 12:19PM #5
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,782

I'll admit, I do have sort of a slapstick sense of humor, that can lend itself to both crudeness and sarcasm. In a forum where one is dealing with written words only, sometimes the whole message does not get across, because the body language and inflection of voice is not there. So, it ends up sounding rude. 


I try to watch that.


Otherwise, when dealing with hostile parties on touchy subjects, I try to be polite, but firm. 


Honestly, some people with deeply vested interests in strident, zero-sum views tend to behave like teenagers, and think the world owes them an apology for even daring to disagree.


So, again -- as when dealing with a teenager -- be polite, but firm, and never apologize for simply offering intelligent criticsm or telling the truth.


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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 12:41PM #6
Aka_me
Posts: 12,403

saying things from a keyboard, in the comfort of one's home, makes it easy to forget who reads it. the anonymity can cause people to say things they wouldn't say face to face.


so I try to ask myself "would I say this in front of a group of people containing 1. my fellow believers 2. friends in real life who are members of the group being discussed 3. complete strangers.


and ask if the content contains solid discusion points, or is intended simply to inflict anger.


I believe saying something simply to inflict anger is of such extreme childish behavior that people should unite in refusing interacting with those who can't behave responsibly.


debate is intended to stay focused on topics, and contain substance. and occasionally points with solid substance end up being taken personally because people identify as BEING their religion.


it is at times important to remind people that a solid point about a theology is NOT a personal attack.

if you don't believe the CIA controls the media, then it's only through WILLFUL ignorance of the information openly available to you. who shot himself in the head TWICE before a new book was released. the corruption is bleeping sick!
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 5:09PM #7
Seefan
Posts: 3,969

The Universal House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others, to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful.  (Lights of Guidance, p. 90)


I think this applies! 


While hard to practice this ‘requirement’ in the Baha’i Writings is very important whenever we communicate online and in our own personal and private lives. For me it has everything to do with my daily personal spiritual condition and it kinda tells me where I’m at as a spiritual entity, especially when I continue to argue with others to prove a point!  There is nothing wrong with making an opposing point but with tact.  I believe my spiritual condition is contingent upon what I do on a daily bases in all of my affairs.  Anytime I consistently argue with others it comes from my ego, as opposed to God’s will for me.  This darker side of my personality contains my shortcomings such as those infamous deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride and vainglory, which we are all fighting to eliminate.  If I’m not aware that my ‘pride’ wants to be right all of the time I’ll continue to argue with others to validate my perceived abilities, and may even erroneously believe I am better.  If I don’t recognize when one is simply being argumentative with no real goal or even just to put down the standing of our Faith, I’ll continue to argue in a vain attempt to show that I’m right.  This situation actually destroys my credibility as well as my spiritual condition and makes my Faith look bad.  It’s doing ‘my will’ and following my over-inflated ego and not God’s will as explained by Baha’u’llah.  At this point I truly am a Baha’i in name only and I need to make the necessary changes ....


For me, it takes daily practice beginning with a recognition of my character defects, finding when they show its ugly head, and trying to minimize and/or eliminate such situations and damage (most times not even aware of) whenever possible.  It also takes rigorous daily effort to develop the spiritual qualities we as Baha’is are ask to adopt.  No one ever claimed that being a Baha’i was the easier, softer way through life, but it is worth the effort, 1st to recognize and then to adopt.  Online conversation is a great way of recognizing who I am, what I am, and what I need to work on, if I’m up to the task of working from a spiritual perspective rather then from my character defects!  I’m not here to change others but myself, certainly a very difficult goal.  I guess the following applies:


"'Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being "perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect: and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy... On no subject are the Bahá'í teachings more emphatic that on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding, while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.'"  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1975)


Today the one overriding need is unity and harmony among the beloved of the Lord, for they should have among them but one heart and soul and should, so far as in them lieth, unitedly withstand the hostility of all the peoples of the world ... (Baha'i Writings)
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 5:13PM #8
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

Seefan,


How very true. Thanks for your wise words and the apt quotations.


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2011 - 5:31PM #9
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

'Abdu'l-Baha raised the bar somewhat high in his letter to the American Baha'is:


Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart.
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul.
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any person.
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature.

Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart, or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon the earth.

 

('Abdu'l-Baha cited in Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 81)
"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2011 - 2:00PM #10
Aka_me
Posts: 12,403

would saying "I don't believe in worshipping a corporeal god due to the chicken and egg problem of not knowing who created the planet for that god to be born upon..."


is unkind?


or even discussing the nature of God with those holding different opinions, both "of God" and "existence of God"?


and something to the effect of truth being discovered only after the clash of opinions.


when people confuse their opinion with their very survival, pointing out where their opinion doesn't hold water becomes a life and death crisis.

if you don't believe the CIA controls the media, then it's only through WILLFUL ignorance of the information openly available to you. who shot himself in the head TWICE before a new book was released. the corruption is bleeping sick!
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