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  • Sunday, November 07, 2004

    A corollary to the Jarvis Doctrine

    I reprint here the already much-circulated Jarvis pledge.

    After the election results are in, I promise to:

    • Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him.
    • Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him.
    • Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.
    • Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

    I agree with the Jarvis Doctrine, but I propose the following corollary in regards to discussion of religion, faith, and values.

    I pledge to:

    • Tolerate and celebrate beliefs, even if they are not my own.
    • Criticize and correct beliefs, especially if they are my own.
    • Uphold standards of civilized discourse not just in blogs and media, but universally.
    • Find common ground among the community of believers, and in so doing, work to make different beliefs, as well as Belief as a whole, better.
    • Practice verbal and written self-defense, borrowing from common law the concept that the force used to repel an attack can only be the amount necessary to repel the attack and may not be excessive.

    Let me try to explain the reasons for adding the fifth rule. I respectfully disagree with the notion that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind on two grounds. First, the rule "an eye for an eye" is not a justification for revenge, but rather an articulation of the notion that a punishment should fit its crime. Second, universal blindness is the logical outcome, not of the rule, but of the abuse of the rule. It is the logical outcome of escalation of violence, of two tits for tat. If someone accidentally jostles me while passing by, and I intentionally shove him, I have abused the rule. If a person shoves me and I gouge out her eye, I have abused the rule. If a person gouges out one of my eyes and I gouge out both of his, I have abused the rule. The end result of the abuse is making the whole world blind.

    As a result of the recent election, the Republicans are in control of all branches of government, and they have won that control with the help of Christian fundamentalists. If the Republicans could separate "church" from "state" within their own party, then there would be no question about our ability to compromise and to find common ground. The problem is that fundamentalists look upon religious and/or political liberals as antichrists. Fundamentalists are not interested in compromising with antichrists. An antichrist is not someone to be embraced, to be tolerated, to be civil toward, to be worked with, or to be compromised with. An antichrist is to be vanquished and condemned to hell. And, to complicate matters, we can't be quite sure at this point whether our President is a fundamentalist, or whether he simply plays one on TV.

    That, in a nutshell, is why that fifth rule is necessary. I welcome a congenial exchange of ideas. If someone takes the Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter approach and makes insinuations about liberal stupidity or drops other similar fighting words, then I am capable of responding without resorting to a scorched-earth policy. But as for fundamentalists? They started pushing people like me out of their churches a long time ago. That's all right with me now, since, twelve years after being pushed out, I have found a better church anyway. But what recourse is available to us if they start trying to push us out of this country, or out of this plane of existence?


    Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

    I like the pledge and your corollary. That said, I personally would have a lot of trouble upholding the first portion of the pledge in each section.

    I didn't vote for Bush and I detest him. I don't mind other beliefs different from my own PROVIDED they don't infringe upon mine. As you point out, fundamentalism does not pass this test. Therefore, I certainly am not of a mind to celebrate such beliefs.

    Fri Nov 25, 01:04:00 AM PST  

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