RJ Walters is a busy blogger. I count six different avenues for his creativity to be expressed. I list his Waiting 4 God under "My Favorites Blogs." Frankly, I have a hard time keeping up with just this blog. How he finds the time to manage and freshen half a dozen, I have no clue. One day I noticed something labeled Code of Conduct at the top of his Red Letter Living blog. He bases this on the words of Jesus, hence the red letter title.
RJ, who is a regular commenter on Satisfying Retirement, has posted what he expects from those who visit his site. I have no idea how many of his readers check "the code" before proceeding, but I did and found the inspiration for today's post. What follows are his words, followed by some of my thoughts. I am trusting he won't mind.
RJ's Code of Conduct:
I welcome your comments to anything I say. But I will not allow others to use my blog to vent their bitterness. As long as you comment by the code below I will post them for others to see.
All bloggers decide if they want to permit comments to be left after a post. Some decide the blog is more of a personal journal, so someone else's comments don't really fit. But, most blogs encourage and actively solicit comments...I do.
It is certainly OK to disagree with a blogger. It wouldn't be very interesting if every comment simply echoed whatever the post was about and agreed with everything that was said. A different point of view can open up a meaningful exchange of ideas and solutions to problems.
But, if you spend anytime at all reading blogs, you have probably come across comments that are downright nasty. The blogger's ideas aren't just disputed, but the attacks become personal. Name-calling and denigrating someone's honesty or integrity take place. RJ spells out what he considers the basic rules you should follow if you expect him to allow your comment to see the light of day. Being a Christian, RJ bases his code of conduct on a few principals in the Bible, hence the references at the end of each of his three "rules." Whatever your feelings about religion, I would doubt you can disagree with what he asks of his contributors:
• I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the this online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree—even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)
I wish this simple statement was one more of us followed in our daily life, not just when leaving a comment on a blog. I am afraid the concept of respectful disagreement is being drowned out by the shouts and rants of angry people, fully believing he who yells the loudest and longest wins.
• I will express my disagreements with other community members’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)
I am not sure American politics in 2011 could function if RJ's code was enforced nationwide. To run for virtually any elected office means inviting the worst type of personal name-calling and slanderous accusations from those who disagree. Mockery and insults are the preferred tools in public discourse.
•I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)
Extending the benefit of the doubt means someone accepts the possibility that he may be wrong and the other person may be right. It means accepting that, as a human being, each of us has incomplete knowledge. We are not infallible.
This is not a subject that is exclusive to bloggers or retirees. It is an important topic for everyone. Common decency, or open and constructive debate are held hostage by the extreme fringes on either side of an issue. Trying to reach a consensus is required in a democracy. For whatever reason those yelling the loudest about freedom are those least likely to grant it to those who may disagree with them.
RJ's code of conduct would be a great starting point for a lot more than just comments left on his blog.
OK - notice I am inviting comments. Fire away!