Fourteen Precepts in Fourteen Days: Day Three
Third: Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh
I suppose waging war against others in order to force them to adopt our views might fit under this heading, wouldn’t it? I don’t really know what to say here, it seems so obvious to me that forcing one’s beliefs on others is wrong, and goes against our core values as Americans as expressed in the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. And of course this is the big divide right now, between those who feel justified forcing their beliefs on others, and those who feel that forcing their beliefs on others is wrong.
The harder part of this precept is the “compassionate dialogue” part — and maybe this is the place to focus our energies. Its so tempting to get sucked into argument, to shout and stomp one’s feet and just tell the opposition that they’re wrong. Compassionate dialogue entails really engaging with the other side. I think of Jimmy Carter when I think of compassionate dialogue. It seems to me that there’s a lot of compassionate dialogue going on out in the blog-o-sphere right now. Sites like Body and Soul, Where’s Raed?, and of course Sean-Paul’s heroic efforts over at The Agonist to keep us up to date on what’s happening in the war while stripping away the interpretive overlay that clogs up the mainstream news coverage (he’s running out of bandwidth though, so Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Electrolite is suggesting that people use the mirror sites located here, here and here) all seem to be participating in compassionate dialogue that seeks to make an end run around fanaticism and narrowness. I guess all we can do is try to keep it up. Try not to lose heart. Try to stay engaged.