Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Lesson in Diplomacy

I was fascinated by the string of comments accompanying this HBLL Library blog post about their collection of works related to Charles Darwin (happy 200th, Charles!). I've read a fair amount about the religion/evolution debate (my favorite spot to do so) but the interesting part to me of this discussion was the official blogger's responses to Brad's rather mean-spirited (at least in my view) judgments about the propriety of a BYU website talking about Darwin in a non-bashing way. The author's responses show remarkable restraint and maturity.

My favorite part was the response to another commenter, Joe R, who agreed with Brad that a blog post about Darwin is indeed an "honor" to him and stated "I doubt we would see a similar blog entry about Hitler or others of his kind." The author of the post replied simply "Thanks for the comment. For the record last year the blog did mention Hitler and it was not to honor him. He is part of world history and there are thousands of items in our collections that have a connection to World War II and are therefore linked to Hitler." I just find the curtness and simplicity and honesty hilarious there! And the diplomacy is amazing--the author could very easily have gone on the attack herself, but didn't do anything of the sort. She stated the facts dispassionately and laid out an argument for why there's nothing wrong with her actions. The lack of direct retaliation makes her argument all the more persuasive to me--it sets her apart as "above the fray," mature, and composed.

I would take this as a model for discussions of politics, religion, or any other contentious subject. Even as a model for foreign (as well as domestic) policy. Because to me, it's the Christ-like way to go. Don't retaliate just because it would be justified. Transcend the petty arguments. That doesn't mean you don't have to respond or argue your case, but man, it helps if you do it in a way that doesn't make you look like a whiner.

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