Monday, April 16, 2007

Amster: "Community means having a dialogue"

Randal gently reaches out to his critic last week and tries to make a larger point with it. Good on you, Randal. We have to talk up the philosophy and responsibilities of community to make it happen -- it's not something we can take for granted.

I suppose in this talking-up there's not a lot of room for the unfortunate reality that population density and technology are conspiring to push people into smaller, more tightly delineated communities and mentally out of the larger, healthier communities we inhabit physically. I think it'd be useful to try to point out that this is happening and how we individually drift this way. Holding up a mirror to dis-community might be a wake-up call for some.

That said, I will wholeheartedly second Randal's softly put but nonetheless sharply drawn point about respect on the Courier editorial page, and for that he gets a cookie.

Readers will please forgive a moment of classicly educated geekiness. Sorry, Randal, my references agree that "community" derives from one source, that is the Latin communitas, an extension of communio, meaning first the area inside the city wall, secondarily and more abstractly the sharing of responsibility. This derived from con + munia, 'with' + 'duties,' building the concept of serving together. Now munia could have evolved from something from a previous culture, that's not really known, but let's not tangle the path unnecessarily. Moneta, which led to 'money,' is a quite different word, originally in Roman culture a surname for the goddess Juno describing mindfulness, leading to English words like 'monitor.' The Latin communicatio, actually something of a pun on communio, named the oratorical device of inviting audience response. None of this interferes much with your point, but you didn't need shaky etymology to make it.


leftturnclyde said...

Ok I Like what Randall is calling for but this bit of ju jitsu, sanwiched between the Muddy etymology and a MLK quote followed by a subtle , yet definite, plug for the college course he's teaching ( still trying to figure out how that self serving bit is pertenant) troubling to me. anyway here's the quote.

" By challenging my assessment of Prescott's recent "peace history," the author presented his own version of what he saw in the same time frame. While our respective accounts differ, and while I found his personal tone to undermine the strength of some of his arguments, I nonetheless value his willingness to take the time to articulate his thoughts and to be forthright in his convictions."

Ok correct me if Im wrong ( and I know you will Steve )But this is what I got out of the above statement and my reactions to each point.
A: He disagrees with Jims account of events ..but does not say how.( what did he get wrong? if you're not gonna be specific on the points of error why bring it up?) B:Didnt like the tone Jim was using.( I read this as a polite way of saying Jim was acting like a jerk ) therefore some of his arguments are "undermined"..(WTF..? which arguments? are they less true because he was not as polite as he could have been ? Randall does not adress this in detail so we have no way to know exactly what he means.) C:then damns Jim with faint praise for writing an oped piece that Randall finds distastefull (but at least he put in the effort to express his opinion..thanks for participating, here have a chocolate and go sit with the other slow kids)

Despite what he says he wants to acomplish Randalls oped piece is divisive.Maybe more so than the kind of Open Flame that Jim pointed in Randalls Direction. I would rather have read , no wanted to read, something from this guy that took showed how wrong Jims rant about the Peaceniks was in a open and honest way instead of a Passive-agressive essay that told us Jim was wrong but not how or why. Are we just supposed to accept what Randall says because he can quote MLK and hangs out at arcosanti ? Because he's teaching his class thomas more? If he's gonna accuse some one ( even if its done in a poisously polite way )of being in error , shouldnt he have to back that claim up with some proof?

Steven Ayres said...

Moved from Editorial thread:

Anonymous said...

You know, that is one bulletproof article. A hard to refute theme ("can't we all just get along"), a quote from MLK and no real specifics which could lead some portion of local readers to disagree.

Cue the big eyed child holding the crying puppy and go to press.

Steven Ayres said...

I agree with both of you that the piece might be more engaging if Randal had taken on his critic more forcefully, but that would clearly have worked against his objective, which is to demonstrate the process of conflict resolution -- actually allowing the conflict to resolve is Step One -- and use the conflict to boost into higher thinking about community.

If that's 'hard to refute,' why not go with it?

leftturnclyde said...

steve your missing the point,what anymous and I both picked up on is the hypocrisy that is laced in Randal's essay ..If the main thrust of what Randall was saying was "hey cant we all just get along "I would have Baked him the cookie MYSELF!
What he did was trot out the lefty version of wrapping himself in the flag(for which we have been giving the wingnuts hell) to disguise the fact he was wailing on Jim and to advertise his college class.
Not Impressed

Steven Ayres said...

"What he did was trot out the lefty version of wrapping himself in the flag to disguise the fact he was wailing on Jim and to advertise his college class."

Sorry, I don't see that at all in what Randal wrote.