This is an idea that's been knocking around in my head for ages now. It's spread over so many sleepless nights, moments of outrage or incomprehension, that I doubt I can summarize or even remember it all, but here goes. I need to get it out of my head because it's been interfering with my noding by monopolising my forebrain every time I access e2, you see.
Please pardon my Christianity-derived node title, I use it because I couldn't find any one other place I wanted to put it, although there were many, many nodes that hinted they might like something like this added to them.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.
I could make this long. I could tell you stories about each of the ideas contained within. But I'm not a good enough writer to get it all across. So, here is a statement of my beliefs instead of an argument designed to get you to see them.
It is not people you disagree with, it is ideas. You should never strive to destroy people with whom you disagree, instead you should try to change their ideas.
"But, changing people is wrong!" you cry. Maybe. But the method is also very important. You don't hold a knife to their throat and say "believe me," you talk. And when you talk to them, you have as much chance of changing your beliefs as they do theirs.
It is not people you disagree with, it is ideas. What does this mean for the development of your own beliefs? I myself change my beliefs constantly. While some people may think this makes me unreliable (there's a node around here somewhere saying that - I don't recall which, if anyone knows could they please msg me?), I have to do it in order to keep feeling honest. Honest? How is changing my beliefs almost constantly honest? Well, what I've seen is changing always. Changing beliefs does not change your identity, rather it reflects it more accurately. My beliefs spring from my experiences, and from how I respond to them. Thus my beliefs must change as I learn more and more about people and the world.
It is not people you disagree with, it is ideas. Thus you should never become what you fight... unless you become convinced of its truth. Many times I have entered into an argument, only to become convinced that my initial stance was wrong within seconds, as my opponent says something I have never considered before. Those who have seen me tenaciously defend any one of my ideas against someone who will not move an inch have exhibited quite amusing looks of surprise when, after a single sentence from my opponent, I occasionally will look thoughtful for a moment and then say "No, you're right. Never mind." I have not been defeated in such an instance, my ideas have changed, and to speak of defeat or victory in this sense is nonsensical.
There are some things I think I will never be convinced of the rightness of. I see people cutting into one another, all around me, like vicious little thorns. That's not right. Sarcastically cutting down someone I don't like because they are like this is no victory for me (I won't pretend I don't do it. I don't have the compassion that I feel I need, yet), it just adds to the problem I see.
Everyone should, indeed, respect the beliefs of others, but this does not mean you should leave them completely alone. There's sure to be something any given person has not thought of, some angle of looking at their beliefs they have not tried (holy crap that's an understatement. The vast majority of people don't think about their world-view at all). Some people get so uncomfortable with having their beliefs questioned that they don't let it happen. I don't really know what to say except 'grow up'. If you leave your beliefs unquestioned, then even the weakest, most nonsensical belief can survive in your corner of the noosphere. More debate, more exposure to the ideas of others, is what helps your ideas develop fastest. Nobody mention Darwin, please.
In case nobody picked up on it, this is just asking to be argued with, or at least commented on. Just because this is a statement of my beliefs does not mean that I want it left alone in it's own little node. Please, give me something more to think about.