Thursday, March 06, 2003

I've been doing some searching around about fasting customs in different religions. One thing that's interesting is that all of them say that refraining from evil actions is just as important as refraining from food and drink -- especially where speech is concerned. I guess since fasting involves restraint of the mouth, restraint of speech is rather associated with it.

My favorite is the Muslim hadith where Muhammad is said to have instructed his followers that if anyone insults a fasting Muslim, or tries to begin a quarrel, that Muslim should simply respond "I am fasting."

So, I'm trying to behave myself in online discussions, and actually used the response Muhammad recommended, as a sign that if I'm attacked, I'm not defending. I swear nobody beats Baha'is at denial -- a person calls a post of mine "falsehood", "tendentious", "so-called scholarship", just for starters, but denies that it is an attack, and further accuses me of "playing the martyr." What's hard about it, is that this person didn't even address a single thing I said, but if I try to explain further, then I'm in the kind of argument I should be avoiding just now.

But I began thinking about my own style. I'm no angel; I do sometimes lose my temper, and use various colorful phrases to tell people giving me a hard time to go jump in the lake. But, you know, I thought about this exchange today -- and it just would never occur to me to call someone a lying, tendentious, pseudo-scholar even if I believed it to be true. In fact, I seldom even *think* of people that way. And if I'm angry, I don't deny I'm angry. These same people get all upset if I turn the air blue with a few four-letter words, but they can use "polite" insults and don't see what they are doing wrong. The closest I ever come to that is maybe saying that "Such-and-such is a typical fundamentalist reaction.", and even then I make it general rather than personal.

Well, I suppose I should be counting my own sins right now. How persistant the need to justify one's self!

No comments: