Ever since I wrote this post I have been thinking about what I really want this blog to be about. And then, last week, in the comments to this post and this post, I think I figured it out.
You see, I really like discussion and debate. Like, a lot. But it can be very frustrating sometimes. The internet becomes a place of strawman arguments, self-righteous and judgmental proclamations and firmly entrenched camps. A lot of discussions deteriorate into a yelling match with no one really hearing each other any more. I feel all these things really hold us back from really communicating with each other. They get our defenses up, they stop us from listening, they divide and separate us and tell us we shouldn’t ever agree. I am certainly not immune to falling into these debate traps, I don’t think anyone is. But they aren’t very productive in terms of having a discussion that goes somewhere.
When I say ‘goes somewhere’ I don’t mean totally changing someone else’s mind. For me that is not the point. I judge a discussion successful if, at the end, everyone has gained a better understanding of each others experiences. If everyone is a bit more open to others points of view. Discussion and debate, at its best, is connection not opposition. We are never going to get to a point where everyone agrees on something– nor should we. Diversity of opinion is what gives us new ideas, new perspectives and new understandings. Why would we want to do away with that?
That is why Perpetua over at Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs started ControverSunday, to give us an place to discuss controversial topics and realize that we may not have the same opinion, but we weren’t really all the far apart as it may seem. This meme is one of my favourite parts of writing this blog. And I so respect and admire the community that she has built around that blogging tradition. (Which is why we MUST keep is going. Please go see Perpetua and offer to host or offer a topic idea.)
Essentially, what I am saying, is that I want this blog to be somewhere that people feel safe sharing different opinions and experiences. It was so exciting to see @Kellynaturally and @janetlandsbury discuss different perspectives on babies natural tendency to suck for comfort. Even though they disagree, these two women are an example to us all about how to have a respectful, honest and open discussion. I, for one, was taking notes. I think their discussion also really showed how having a discussion that doesn’t turn into a yelling match not only is more pleasant, but also more informative. I learned more about both approaches then I had from many other debates which were not as respectful of each other. That’s how to advocate, in my opinion.
@Jessica really hit the nail on the head, in one of her comments, in terms of what I want this blog to be about: “This is just one of the most intriguing posts I’ve read in forever because I don’t have an argument against it, but yet we view our own views on it so differently.” Exactly. Let’s not argue- let’s just discuss different opinions. @Ginger also said something that stuck out in my mind: “I don’t know that I have a conclusion to my rambling here, but it bothers me that the discussions devolve (within the extremist groups primarily) to such a point that we believe the WORST in other parents first because of the rhetoric.” Exactly. Let’s come here and see the best in each other, rather then assuming the worst.
I know there are others places online out there where a safe space for debate has been created. It’s not like this concept is in anyway novel. But I think the more spaces like that exist where diversity of opinion can be discussed without all out brawl, the better.
So here is the plan. First, I want to welcome and encourage everyone to join the discussion here. If you have always wanted to comment, but didn’t because you felt your views were different, please comment. I really do want to hear from those who disagree. I have made the commitment here that your thoughts are welcomed. Discussions may get heated, but I will do whatever I can to prevent someone from feeling personally attacked. I won’t stop diversity of opinion, but I will moderate the comments and ask commenter to re-phrase their comments if I feel the person they are directed to would feel attacked. I can’t promise no one will ever be offended, but I promise to do my best to keep this a safe place for open discussion. That being said, I don’t want us to hold anything back. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with openly disagreeing with someone, so long as it is done with respect.
Second, I am working on a little blog series about those 3 traps (mentioned above) of debate we get ourselves into and a discussion on what we can do to prevent/stop them. I hope to have those posts up over the next couple weeks.
Also, in terms of topics, I am going to take @Kellynaturally up on discussing my thoughts on those strict scheduling baby theories. Like AP parenting, I have some aspects of those theories I disagree with (again, with many caveats) and I think writing about them will generate an interesting discussion. I would also like to hear from you if you have anything ideas for topics you think aren’t discussed enough online. Or a topic that you hear big assumptions being made about you would like to see a more nuanced discussion of. Let me know what you think.
Lastly, I just want to let you all know, my intention is not to turn this blog into all controversial debates all the time. I will write more toned down posts on just dealing with life and ask for your thoughts on it. But I do want to give this blog a bit more purpose. And if it can be a place where differing opinions can come together and we can discuss in an open and nuanced form- well, that would be awesome.