Last Saturday I wanted to post a short message in the chitchatters chat to ask whether somebody was going to the demonstration on Sunday, because I was going all alone (most friends staying at home because of small children or career-related restrictions) and having some company would have felt comfy and safe.
Eventually I didn’t do it, because I wasn’t sure about how we want to handle opinions and politics in The Reef, and neither were the people I consulted. So maybe it’s a good idea to have a short exchange on this topic?
My first idea was that we should probably keep politics and strong opinions out of The Reef, but now that I have given it some more thought I see things differently.
The thing that side-tracked me a bit is the polarisation around the situation in the Middle East, and the growing taboo to talk about it. When I went to the demonstration I felt like I was going to a controversial event, while it was actually organised by some very credible peace organisations, the rules were very clear (approval of war crimes from either side led to exclusion) and the demands from the organisers seemed to align almost 100% to those of the United Nations. So all in all much less controversial than it actually felt.
Leaving the pros and cons about this horrific conflict aside, it is my hope that in spite of any crazy or controversial thing that may happen, that we can honour our values of diversity and openness. I also hope that we will manage to prioritise nonviolent dialogues over avoiding people to get upset, because I am afraid that keeping strong opinions and politics out of The Reef is going to be close to impossible.
Magnificently crazy shit is mostly going to happen one day, so I hope that as much as possible, we will manage to respect different opinions, even when they trigger intense emotions, and that we will see the value of steering clear from polarisation and belief battles. It is also my hope that, in situations where somebody does get (very) upset about somebody else’s opinion, we can respond with empathy and curiosity, rather than judging people or wanting to convince each other about who is right. In practice this is probably going to be incredibly challenging at times - “whadayamean, it should be forbidden for seahorses to make Michael Jackson moves on Monday afternoon?!?!” - but that’s a price I am willing to pay if this is what it takes to create a space where, in spite of magnificently crazy shit that makes us question everything we believe in, everybody can still feel welcome.
So here are my questions:
Would you agree that it is close to impossible to keep strong opinions and politics out of The Reef?
Do you think we need some guidelines about opinions and politics, or do you think that just aspiring to our values and NVC should be enough?
Would you agree that, at the next occasion, a neutral message along the lines of “I’m going to demonstration XYZ, somebody else going too?” would be safe enough for now?
Happy to get your views, and feel free to tag more people!