Tuesday, March 26, 2002

I keep forgetting that this is not the old real world.
In the old real world, I used to dream of having a forum – maybe a column in a newspaper -- that maybe thousands of people would read. I could put all of my views out there and people I didn’t even know would read them. And maybe I could persuade them to agree with my point of view. Or maybe I could inspire or encourage people who think as I do to speak out as well. But these people really wouldn’t know anything about me personally, so, if I wanted to, I also could risk irritating, antagonizing and, disagreeing with them with all the verbal vehemence I could muster. In the old real world.

In the old real world, before email, before blogging, I used to write letters. All the time. Letters to old college chums, old beaus, former students – people who knew me long and well. I could say just about anything I wanted in those letters. I knew that they would understand that sometimes I get carried away and get confrontational, aggressive, hard-headed. They would know how to call me on it without taking it personally.

Sometimes I forget that this is not the old real world. This is the web. And this is the blogging network on the web comprised of tenuous connections with only partially understood personalities. And that partial understanding works both ways.

I find that I am trying to make old dreams real in a world that is not the old real world. A blog is not a newspaper column with a lot of anonymous readers. And it is not a letter that I am writing to someone who has known me long and well and will understand that sometimes I come on really strong – and will forgive me.

I guess I have am finally coming to personal grips with the intellectual and intelligent discussions that have been going on ever since blogging started. What is it? Journalism? Diary entries? Commentary? What is our responsibility to our readers? Do we have any responsibility? I don’t know the answers. But my putting myself in the middle of some serious and uncomfortable blog dynamics is finally making me take these questions to heart. I suspect the wise path would be let allow my heart to figure it out.
Why do I always miss the good stuff?
While I’ve been riding my feminist bloghorse, there have been much more important issues being wrestled with on some of the blogs I most respect – and they all seemed to have checked in on the issue in the Comments section of burningbird’s blog – here and here and here. In a way, it might have been fortuitous that I missed it all because I tend to shoot off my mouth from the hip when I get caught up in the heat of the moment. (Heh. What an image that conveys!)

So now that the ashes are down to a smolder, I’ll state my position in less fiery terms than I might have had I dashed into the fray earlier. I made this comment on burningbird’s blog, but I think I need to say it here more publicly:

I have very strong viewpoints about any number of things, but I never would pull anyone's blog off my roll because they disagree with me. What I might do, however, is make a separate blogroll section called "dissenting opinions" or something like that if I wanted to make sure that my blog was not directly associated with theirs -- although they would have to be really extremists on all fronts before I'd relegate them to the hinterlands of my blogroll. …I not only agree with burningbird's "viewpoint," but I'm more and more despairing of the America in which I want to be a proud citizen. Our government has definitely let its shadow side eat up its heart and humanity. We are reaping what we have sown. My American countrymen/women who are still suffering the aftermath of 9/11 should not lay the total blame on the terrorists; they should look into our own government's heart of darkness. So, we (some of us bloggers) will all be in good company when we join each other on America's growing "blacklist" and mourn, together, the death of freedom and our country's part in the murder of innocents.

And I add here, as well, that I see that same shadow devouring all of the parties who continue to escalate the situation in the Middle East. There are no good guys in any of this – at least no good governments. Whatever good is left in any of us is hiding in our individual hearts, cowering in fear of being labeled “enemy sympathizers.” Except for a few brave souls who still remain true to The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity, which is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. Perhaps we have finally succeeded in killing all of our gods and our humanity as well.