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Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything

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Dear Friends, Dear Readers of This Here Blog,

August 26th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 3 Comments

In this blog of mine, I don’t mean to talk about people, I mean to talk about beliefs. Unfortunately the impact of beliefs are sometimes best understood within the context of the human relationships involved. I try my best to maintain anonymity on this blog, trying to use as vague descriptions of the scenario as possible, but that best is sometimes not good enough. I continually strive to improve… One unfortunate thing: I decided to attach my own name to what I write, I specifically decided against anonymity twice (when I originally started 19 months ago, and again back in December). The rationale: by writing under my name, I’m more accountable for what I write.

Identity

In certain forms of religion, taken very seriously by its adherents, adherents find their identity in the religion. In cases where religion is equated with having certain beliefs (a matter of mind, rather than of “heart”, suggested by Karen Armstrong to be a symptom of modernity, a post-enlightenment reinterpretation of what belief used to be), there exists a nasty side-effect: if you have a disagreement with a particular belief, you believe something else, it is suddenly experienced as a personal attack on the adherent’s identity…

This is NOT the case. I ask everyone, I ask you, nay I beseech you, to keep the following in mind when reading this blog…

Your Opinions Are Not You

This can be the hardest thing to accept. When I have an opinion that differs from your opinion, it is not a personal attack. It is a difference of opinion. I still respect you as a person, even if I disagree. I’m sure for just about anyone on this planet, there’s something we’d disagree about.

Everyone makes mistakes (obviously including me), which is why I believe we need to be open to differences of opinion. If you disagree with me, please feel free to do so! Let us learn how to be civil about or disagreements, or even compassionate and loving…

Wishful thinking, maybe, because I know personally how personal belief can become. Please bear this in mind. Furthermore I pray any and all readers can eventually overcome any hurt that may occur due to a particular interpretation of something I wrote, or due to the discomfort of having someone disagree.

Seek and You Shall Find

This is as true as ever. Seek and you sahll find, however, you shall find that which you seek. (In science, there’s something called “confirmation bias” – similar idea.) If you approach things I write with a particular expectation, chances are you will see that which confirms the expectation and miss that which disagrees with it.

I ask that when you read anything I’ve written, please approach it with the most positive attitude you can. If you honestly seek the truth behind what I wrote, or honestly seek to understand what I meant, in the best possible light, I trust you will be able to find out how I mean it. Typically with love and compassion — if it doesn’t seem that way, you most likely misunderstand. Truly seek and you shall find what I mean, because, after all, you can always

ask me!

If there is something you disagree with, please, please ask. I have a poetic way with words. Unfortunately this may make it a little harder to understand what I mean or how I mean it, but that is why you should ask! My aim here, my contribution, is to make you think. Know that, if it isn’t what you’re looking for, look elsewhere. Most of the time I’m not going to try to make it easy.

For that reason it is of the utmost importance that you first find out what I actually meant before you make up your mind or pass judgement on my intentions or motivations. If you think I’m wrong, I might be, or I might have a good explanation for why I wrote what I wrote. Isn’t that a good reason to start a discussion or a conversation? Please ask! Let’s discuss!

People that know me personally, or that have my contact details by some other means, you’re more than welcome to send me an email, an sms, give me a call, or arrange a meeting. Direct contact is often the best way to clear up any confusion or misunderstanding. Otherwise, I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment. You can do so anonymously or you can attach your name. I typically suggest a questions-based approach, first seek to understand, after that, real discussion can take place.

My Opinions Are My Own, And Only My Own

On this blog, I speak for myself. My posts reflect my thoughts (though not necessarily very well), and my thoughts only. My explanations of things I experienced are not about those things, they’re about my experience of those things. This goes for all human interaction, you will do well in relationships if you recognise this. (We only really have access to our own Meh, though we typically try to construct it to match Lah.)

I sometimes ask advice. My understanding of the advice I receive, is only my interpretation of that advice. So while my pastor tells me he thinks my work is excellent, and that he’s sure I will roll big stones for the Lord yet (noting that they fall slowly, but they fall hard), it still means my opinions are my own. It does not implicate my pastor, who has his own opinions, while he also respects mine. I don’t know whether I will live up to my pastor’s expectations, but I am certainly trying. My motives are pure, whether I am misguided or not. I faithfully follow the path I find myself guided upon by my beliefs, driven primarily by compassion and empathy, though I think I take a big-picture view: I metaphorically flip the switch in the trolley problem, and pray the individual that might get hurt will get off the track in time.

In particular, my opinions also do not reflect those of my family. They do not reflect the opinions of my mother or my sister, any more than they reflect the opinions of my dog, or my second cousin thrice removed, or a random native American living in South-East Asia. For this reason, make no judgements of them based on what I say or do. Also, don’t expect them to answer for me, because while they do try their best to understand how I think, if you’re looking for the best person to ask about what I mean, with regards to anything I write or have written in the past,

Please ask, but ask ME!

Categories: Religion and Science
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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben-Jammin' // Aug 27, 2008 at 3:03 am

    {{{Hugo}}}

  • 2 Werner // Aug 27, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    I feel sorry for people who take offence in your blog. They are missing out on some good stuff. I doubt there are many though.

  • 3 miller // Aug 27, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I can sympathize. One time, I made a negative comment on my blog about one of the more pernicious conceptions of hell. My mother apparently read it. Long story short, I was talking to a Buddhist reverend when she mentioned it. I was wondering what she was talking about until I realized she had completely mangled my comment about hell. Then I had to explain to both of them that I had really said something entirely different.

    Amusing, in retrospect.

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