i've been spending my time over the last few days having a debate by email on a yahoo group i belong to. the group has several hundreds of members, but i've been battling with only two of them. i have no idea what the rest of them might think, or whether it's even worth the effort. but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
it's been pretty frustrating, because i'll put up a whole heap of reasoned arguments, explanations, sometimes links when i get the time. and all i get back are one or two sentence replies with unsubstantiated accusations, or wild generalisations with no proof whatsoever. a couple of the replies border on the nasty, but don't quite get there. again, you might wonder what the point is, as i have a few times.
quite simply, the point is to try to educate people, to try to fight misconceptions with facts and reason, to make them think about their prejudices and why they hold them. even though i pretty much know that the two people i'm directly talking to are not listening, probably not even reading most of what i've written. but maybe other people are, and maybe even for these two, something, somewhere might sink in.
speaking up and speaking out are basic human duties, as far as i'm concerned. to stay silent when something that is clearly wrong going on is to actually participate in that wrong. i guess that's been one of my strengths and one of my greatest weaknesses: not being able to shut up when i hear something that i know to be wrong, when i see attitudes that i know to be destructive. it's a weakness in that it can hurt relationships and because i can get too passionate, which means that i say things in a way that isn't sensitive to the person i'm speaking to. i hope i'm never malicious but i know that i'm not always tactful.
still, despite that, staying silent is not an option. in this particular round of arguments (i've tried it with these particular couple of people before, and given up in frustration), my underlying principle has been to maintain my dignity, present things in a clear way, and to let people judge for themselves as to who is providing the better contribution. it's the best i can do, and the least i can do.