Unity in essentials, diversity in non-essentials, charity in disagreement.
I became familiar with this quote when I joined a friendly debating society after I graduated from college. The key modifier there is friendly. I have always thought of this site as a home away from home online, a place where we could have friendly debates. Lately it has not been a particularly hospitable place and it is part of the reason I and many of the other longtime contributors have not been here as much.
Here are some principles I think we should all follow.
1) Unity in essentials
We are all Democrats or Democratic leaning voters. Let’s remember that. Nobody here is a Republican, a racist, a sexist, or a Trump supporter and we should try avoiding lobbing those accusations to stifle debate among friends.
2) Diversity in non-essentials
Some of us voted for Bernie, some of us voted for Clinton. None of us voted for Trump. I think this is important to keep in mind as the primary season begins locally and nationally. Some of us favor the public option, some of us favor single payer. All of us agree that the current health care system is messed up and needs to be fixed. These are some examples of diversity within the center-left that we should value and not try and stifle.
3) Charity in disagreement
Let’s assume the best intentions in our fellow commentators even if they disagree with us on something we passionately favor.
Keep it Original and Classy.
1)Prioritize original content
That is what still drives lawmakers and press to these pages. Seeing something here they won’t see anywhere else. My post on the Olympics got me an invite to a sit down with Marty Walsh. My post on how to fix the legislature helped get me my job with the UIP. Posts on education and marijuana policy here definitely drove the conversation during those ballot questions. We need to do more of this, and less of the armchair punditry and tit for tat sniping we sometimes fall into.
2) If you have nothing nice to say, don’t post
I find myself doing this more and it makes it easier for me to stick around. Disengaging is better than wrecking a post with 50 or more tit for tat comments that do nothing but keep the people locked in that dispute angry at one another while boring long time readers and driving eyeballs away from the original content of the thread.
3) Don’t be boring
I see a lot of repetitive posts and comments. Try not to do that. Try and say something new (following that first rule). Always be original.
We are all imperfect and will break these rules from time to time, but I hope we can all do better. This site is still meaningful and I want it to be a more welcoming place for newer and diverse voices.