Member Rara Avis
See what I mean about rules not working?
Good writers have very little trouble skirting rules, usually circumventing them easily with innuendo, sarcasm, and very thinly veiled contempt. Sometimes I think we could do with a few less good writers and a few more good people. Respect and tolerance are absolutely meaningless drivel when you're just agreeing with your best bud. They only really count for something when you're disagreeing with somebody you don't particularly like. They only really count for something when they cost you something. And apparently they don't really count for much around here. I'm honestly ashamed. Four years of doing this, and tonight I feel as if we've accomplished nothing. Nothing.
Do we really need proof of our imperfections? Look no farther than this thread. Do we really need proof of furtive unrest? One voice raised is proof enough, even were that one voice the only real unrest. I don't need proof, I don't need names, and I would never ask anyone to betray a confidence. By and large, I doubt there would be a single name on any list that would surprise me. By and large, I could probably list the more prominent names without any hints. People can't long hide behind aliases, people can't long hide behind cryptic affronts masquerading as poetry, and by and large, people can't even long hide behind private email because they forget they aren't the only ones with too little honor. I am not unaware of our imperfections. Nor am I usually daunted by them.
I choose instead, by and large, to ignore them. Someone brings me a rumor, I tell them it's a rumor and I really don't want to hear it. Someone writes me with a complaint about policy, I tell them to post it in the forums so everyone can be involved in discussing it, because frankly, if they don't have the guts to do that then I figure the issue wasn't really very important to them any way. I can't eliminate the imperfections. But I don't have to be a party to them, either.
Four years ago last month, these forums were private. The only way to find your way into this place was by invitation. It was just about this time four years ago, around late August, that we decided to open the doors a crack by posting a link on the main site. Diversity, we decided, was worth the inevitable costs of inviting strangers into our little haven. To be honest, those costs have been higher than I ever imagined. Hardly a month passes that I don't consider closing these doors and opening a new forum, a closed and private forum with only a large handful of invitations issued. Even that wouldn't eliminate the imperfections. But it sure would lessen them by a wide margin.
I haven't done that, I probably never will do that, and the reason is pretty much the same reason I choose to ignore those who insist on seeding unrest and contention. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of those troublemakers will inevitably and eventually fall by the way side. Out of a thousand, though, one will see the example being set by others here and will suffer an epiphany that will change their life. One of out a thousand will stop planting seeds of unrest and instead become an example that will, just maybe, change the life of one more individual in the next batch of a thousand. In four years, I've only see that happen a few times. But those few times have been enough to keep these doors open. Those few times more than justify the costs. Those few times are the reason I will continue, by and large, to ignore the other 999 for as long as I can. Because I can never know ahead of time which one of the thousand will pay the toll for all the rest.
Raph? I strongly urge to ignore them, too. By continuing to listen to their idle chatter, you validate everything they say. Until they have the courage to stand up and be counted, as you have chosen to do here today, their complaints will remain merely complaints, merely whining. The best way to solve some problems is to refuse to be a part of the problem.
There is no way, short of force, to abruptly change the direction of a community. Change, if it's to occur, comes one person at a time. If everyone here stopped worrying so much about what others are doing wrong and concentrated instead on doing only what they feel is right, the imperfections here would evaporate with the morning dew.
Anyone heard the Serenity Prayer lately? (Quiet, Karen, save that wit for something less easy.)
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
You cannot ever, in a million years, change another person. Period. The best you can do, if you're really really lucky and really really work hard at it, is to change yourself. Then, you just got to sit back and hope others will like what they see enough to follow.