Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Caution on the village green...

A Friend wrote to me, concerned, and perhaps a little hurt about an event I conveyed about our meeting. He was also concerned that a bloger mentioned a member of our meeting, by name, on my blog, in a less than positive light.

So, here are a few of my thoughts and I welcome all of yours.

Traditionally, Friends published tracts, which when they got personal, pen names and anonimity were employed. I always felt that personal anonimity was not a good way to go, one should stand by one's words, but naming another with whom one may be muckled, is well, hurtful.

But, the purpose of these tracts, and now blogging, is plain direct speech towards the perfection of our communities. In such, I think it is not a bad thing. We need to look inside, pull out the crap and deal with it. Controversy which is hidden in our hearts festers and comes out one place or another.

But, I do agree with him, if you are going to publicly or to another, call a fellow this or that, using their name - say it to their face, with love, and listening. Otherwise it is tale bearing.

love to all


At 1:32 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Hi Lorcan. I agree - it's best not to bury the bad stuff.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Hi Lorcan,
I think that whoever e-mailed you with concerns about the negative mention of a member of our meeting was right to be concerned. I won't mention again the names of the blogger who made the comments or of the Friend they were about, but I will say that I have great respect for both of them as individuals: I know the blogger through his very worthwhile blog though I have never met him, and I know the other individual through my association with him at out meeting.

In the abstract I would have to agree with you that it's better to bring "controversy" out in the open than let it fester in our hearts. And I would have to agree with Crystal that "it's best not to bury the bad stuff." But, frankly, I can't see that there was any call for the blogger to publish the following comments for all the world to see about a Friend he apparently hardly knew and to use that Friend's name.
"[Name omitted here]... was fishing for a place to stay while he taught reading at a local school (3 days). He's been here since Sun nite. Don't know if you have ever heard of him. Confidentially I find him a bit 'strange'..."

Such an inquiry - sans the gratuitous comment about "strange" - might have a place in a private letter. It is often a good idea to check up on the bona-fides of people travelling through. But what possible good can be served by describing a person in this way in such a public forum? There is no real "controversy" here and no real information - just a suspicion and an insinuation that could conceivably damage the Friend's reputation. If I try to imagine myself in the Friend's shoes, I see that if I heard about these comments I would be hurt and angry. If I try to imagine myself as someone who meets the Friend for the first time only after reading this comment, it seems to me that I could very well develop a prejudice against him because of it.

For an excellent general discussion of the harm we can do with this kind of comment, I highly recommend Seth Hinshaw's article Detraction, which is available online and also as a printed tract from the Friends' Tract Association.

An even clearer and more concise rule of thumb here might be "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you".

- - Rich Accetta-Evans
Brooklyn Quaker


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