Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Case Study in Positive Commenting


I tip my hat to you.

I recently felt very positive emotions when reading a comment response to my recent post [What is With People These Days? - The Neutralization of Childhood] which focused on John Gatto's article detailing the state of government schools.

JamesR's comment displayed behavior which I feel compelled to call out and champion as an example of honorable and respectful discourse. James specifically performed the courageous acts:


  • He self identified facts about himself which may color his opinions.
  • He self identified emotions he had on the subject which caused him discomfort.
  • He specifically called out what he respected about my blog post which had driven him to respond.
  • He expressed positive curiosity towards a topic while also admitting that he had fears and cautionary questions on the topic.
  • He identified the possibility of repercussions of an ideas implementation far beyond the immediate topic showing an awareness for the interconnected nature of our systems based world.
  • He self identified that his thoughts were connected in a manner that most would see as rambling.  (Empathy for others point of view.)
  • He was unapologetic on the point above.
  • He showed curiosity and excitement to make a new connection, and discuss ideas with someone with whom he saw an opportunity for knowledge sharing.
James did not engage in the following corrupt discussion tactics:

  • He did not hold powerful emotions but keep them to himself allowing them to color his language and any response of mine.
  • He was not ashamed of any fears or negative emotions.  When one feels vulnerable to attack for negative emotions, one inevitably will see any conflict of opinion as an attack.
  • He did not misrepresent his opinions as facts.
  • He did not assert false knowledge of my motives as facts.
  • He never once asserted that something "should be" a certain way.
  • He did not assert answers.  Answers are the opposite of curiosity.  If you really know an answer, then no discussion is needed.  If discussion is warranted then you are asking another to join you on the journey of discovery for answers.
I believe what impressed me most about James' response is that not once did he breach the wall between his mind and outside reality.

  • He did not attribute his emotions to external causes.
  • He did not assume others to be himself.
  • He did not assert his opinions were universal truth.
  • He did not assert conclusions for which he did not have evidence.
As I continue to read, listen, think, interact, and write, I find myself on a journey to explore my world.  Along the journey I am keeping an eye out for companions who may be interested in their own journey of exploration.  I may find that some of our journeys can align for a time and we can help each other along the way to knowledge and truth.

I look forward to future conversations with James, as well as I look forward to connections with anyone else who is interested in respectful uplifting discussion.  How about you?

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