Sometimes we talk about what sort of courtesy we should show one another in blogland, and I don’t think it’s possible for everyone to agree.

Part of the fun of having a blog, for many people, is that it gives an opportunity to say whatever we like, about whomever we like, whenever we like. We let off steam, have a rant, and maybe feel better as a result. It’s called freedom of speech, one of the many freedoms which this country offers and which is banned in other places.

However, I don’t think it’s possible to have a freedom ‘in a vacuum’, so to speak. Friend Janet is always saying that the whole of life is interconnected, and many of us are familiar with the idea of an ecosystem, where everything affects everything else.

So it follows that our freedom of speech is connected to other things – like other peoples’ opinions and feelings, which are often very different from our own.

There are some people who shrug their shoulders and don’t think that this should impinge on their right to say what they want. I beg to differ.

I’m happy to have discussions with people who think very differently from me, and I learn a lot from our differences. But I don’t think that freedom of speech should cancel out a sense of responsibility. People may say what they wish, but it should be accepted that sometimes this will have negative and harmful effects.

A good example is the cartoons in Denmark about Islam. There are those who would strongly defend this ‘right’ to write, draw and say whatever one wishes – that is a democratic freedom.

But in a world where interfaith feelings run high, and extremists are ready with guns and bombs, it is downright irresponsible deliberately to offend. Rights do not come singly. They come connected to responsibilities.

So discussion, yes. Disagreement, yes – but courteously. Slagging off other people’s beliefs? No, because trying to live in harmony, and to walk in another’s shoes, is more important than a selfish need to look big to myself in print by offending others.


36 thoughts on “MUTUAL RESPECT

  1. I’m in total agreement with the clear points you made in your post. We as citizens, I think we are technically subjects need to explain to ourselves what we value very highly in our society. For example this morning I heard a politician talking on the radio about the present position of the NHS. He agreed that it faces ‘challenges’ the interviewer tried to get him to explain this word. In effect the more accurate word would be cuts. The politician refused to admit that this was in fact true. I expect that those elected to make decisions on our behalf to tell us the truth. However difficult it may be.
    Yes to mutual respect.


      1. It is WONDERFUL though I’m a bit too thick to follow ALL he says šŸ˜³ but I have another go every now and then. I love the way it is written just as I loved hearing Pope Benedict speaking – surely is Heart speaking unto Heart. šŸ™‚


  2. Pearls and swine is not quite the same thing as feeding the trolls, though not far off. It’s nuanced a bit differently. While you are feeding the trolls, you may be offering wisdom, predominantly though, you are feeding the troll or trolls the fuel to keep the flame of offense alight.


  3. Like the variations found in the cultures around the globe, respect, and courtesy are demonstrated in various ways, some seemingly obtuse to us, and in all probability, it is the same vice-versa. It is a subject in all senses that is subjective, and is based on cultural norms and expectations and structurally managing them.

    I muse sometimes that expectations of one generation do not gel with another in our society. In this way Societal expectations become very blurred. Align that with responsibility and role modelling, and you find another conundrum and blurring of the boundaries.

    Have you been listening to the dramatisation of Samuel Pepys Diaries? It strikes me, within a very uneven society, the day-to-day living issues were not so different to a number we live with now. Interestingly, there were blatant displays of corruption. It continued into more recent times. Today, corrupt practices are and have been kept under devious wraps for fear of how it would be perceived. You could call it a modus operandi change, that is, no longer blatant. We all saw and heard the huge furor when much of the corrupt practice was uncovered. This is one clear sign of changed morals. It leads me to say that morals are part of a code that is wider than the behavioural morals of young women, those morals perceived by others measured against their male dominated restrictions. This last point does not mean that I do not have some empathy with issues that may be of concern to other ethnic groups. There are other reasons for some ethnic groups restrictions with their womenfolk; it is not entirely about the purity for marriage, or, disempowerment, though it may seem so. There is more concern, I believe, about the dilution of their beliefs and faith with integration into our society. That is a fraught area where cultural boundaries can clash. What of respect then, and for whom, or what?

    Your more general points have merit, few could or should argue against them. It is not difficult to hold politeness and courtesy in mind when disagreeing, and it should not be. However, we have seen, I am sure, many occasions in blogland where this has not been an easy balance to maintain, however hard one tries. There is an useful term, ‘don’t feed the trolls’. Have you encountered it? It can be valid.


    1. You make many valid and interesting points. And your useful term has an echo, possibly, in the one I’m more familiar with, ‘don’t throw your pearls to the swine’!

      Mutual respect may well be something more ‘sensed’ than ‘rational’. There are many cultures that read body language much more quickly and accurately than we are now in the habit of doing, although we still do it. Our Nigerian friends knew immediately what someone’s real attitude was, without needing to be told much. There was no use trying to have secrets! They knew whether they were truly respected or not, and of course this was a two-way process. Mutual respect can be enormously empowering and fruitful even across cultural boundaries and language.


  4. I had not seen those cartoons…nor wish to…

    I know I have issues (personal) regarding imigration to the UK..but those that are here are welcome.

    I have always over a number of years supported my ‘corner shops’ who owns them?

    Respect seems to have been lost in this generation

    P xx


    1. It’s about making an effort to get to know people and to listen to them first without rushing to judgement. We can then decide whether we agree or not, but at least we can do so courteously.


  5. Yes indeed, I agree, – with rights come responsibilities just as you say.

    Words and pictures can have very powerful effects on people and should be used responsibly… One rule for Muslims and another for other people… because they take huge offence at things in a way difficult for us to comprehend, so we have to be careful, and respect the fact they may go berserk.

    It can be seen as a great weakness to take offence easily on the one hand but on the other it is right to defend things pertaining to ones faith – shows they are very serious about it.

    If a Muslim makes a joke about our faith we tend to take it on the chin and think not much about it. For some of them it is deadly serious. So it is like playing with fireworks – best not done.

    We have to respect their reactions as just how they are and be careful, even though we are baffled by them.


    1. My experience with Muslim friends has always been that they expect us Christians to take our faith as seriously as they take theirs. In fact one of the huge problems we have, is that they come here from other countries expecting this to be a Christian country. They are then confronted with low morals, lack of respect and educational laziness and are horrified. I think it makes them more Muslim, because they want to disassociate themselves from our so-called ‘Christian’ values. Sometimes I feel very ashamed.


      1. I just remember the tyranny of the call to prayer in Egypt and although I preferred the seeming outward dignity of the people there I’d rather live here and be a Christian through choice than a Muslim through obligation, and know I have rights etc whatever my religion or lack of one.

        I agree that it is embarrassing to feel that they see the imorality around us as Christian!! That is very mortifying!

        Also I’m thinking…something about the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee….. ?


      2. The people in our church who have converted from Islam say that one of the most precious things to them is that here, they can choose their faith. It wasn’t possible in their home country.


      3. Yes indeed. Perhaps there are things we can learn from Islam and there are things Islam could learn from Christianity…… We could do with more of their religious discipline perhaps? They could do with some of our respect for freedom of choice and expression maybe?

        To be honest I would love to have a much greater incite into Islam to try and understand what they are about – lots of things attract but lots of things strike horror in me! :))


      4. Also, there is the usual problem that what we discover the faith to be, and how it is practised, can be two very different things. Same with Christianity really šŸ˜‰


      5. Exactly!! The human manifestation of any faith aint necessarily a true reflection of that faith…… we are all just human at the end of the day….. sinning away hopelessly to a greater or lesser degree in spite of our good intentions :))


      6. It always gives me goosebumps, the thought of that veil, suddenly ripping in two, with nobody doing anything to it. It is such a powerful symbol.


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