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Freedom Of Speech is a Constitutional Right
Freedom of speech shut down procedures are as follows;
Speaking personally of course. On a forum freedom of speech can be shut down, stifling the entire board with all it's participants, past and future. The proselytizer may find him/her self all alone flailing their arms futilely in absence of responses, feeling misunderstood and separate from others.
It can be shut down by insensitive persons who are certain they are always right, and that the final word should be their final word on the subject, as they say so. This is abuse of power. For there is great power in the speaking of any word for good or bad, negative or positive. The negative remark acts to cut off further exploration of said subject matter that is repugnant to the insensitive person.
Non-harmful opinionizing is to mean sensitive communication among peers and the practice of open mindedness and allowance of our differences. Non-harmful communications also assumes that each of us are inherently intelligent enough to detect the truth from fiction, and intellectual enough to study the matter, the topic, whatever it is, before asserting absolute opinions based on heresay, or reactionary tendencies. In other words getting drunk off bootleg whiskey is like accepting the local gossip rags because it is in print, right?
Power mongering is relegated to the few and they can be unconscious of the harm they are doing.
It should be thus brought to their attention what it means "for the good of the whole" to reflect on the effects of their self assertion and what it may be doing to the entire forum. Therefore a good moderator needs to step in and relax the tensions, without necessarily ostracizing the perpetrator. If the most logical explanation has no appeal to the power-monger, then an otherwise promising forum can go dormant and even crash all positive loving input, as fear has been generated among the regulars that the thought police are after them should they speak candidly.
Briefly, a fundamentalist and a new ager and a morman, and/or a warlock, etc and so forth can and do engage each other on forums and due to the shroud of the internet you will not be obliged to know whom you are talking to or how so they label themselves as this or that. If some knowledge is gained by any due to a general air of equanimity, it can only bode well for the life of the forum and it will be evident as the forum grows.
Better that labels be left off in the situation of general topics where discovery is the objective of the common good in new thought areas. Labels and belief systems can mislead a poster who is responding to someone different than they see themselves. If the idea is exploration of a subject matter, then there will be no misconceptions to clutter up the forum and lead all off topic or so far away the sensitive ones fail to return, and as I said, forum sharing and participation of new thought ceases altogether. New thought to mean something as simple as thinking outside the box. Some kind of thought that is not considered traditionally fitting inside a commonly accepted belief system or established religion where everyone is thinking what everyone else is thinking when everyone knows, or I assume so, that we are bugs looking at various portions of the elephant and expounding only on that portion.
New thought can seem too outrageous to consider for a younger soul perhaps. I found a reference point for that sense of outrageousness; Doubt always follows truth. So I must assume, if I accept that concept, truth does not follow doubt. At the least, as we head into the new age, we need to cultivate a sense of wonder and develop a respect for all beliefs another holds barring downright criminal activities. We need to welcome exploration of any topic without inadvertently shutting down that communication for fear perhaps that something awful is going to happen from mere exploration of a concept that is different from the one who feels he/she has the last word on the subject.
I would like to illustrate my point by portraying a real incident as it would seem only real experience makes the point understandable to a reader. Although intellectual prowess is one thing, it should not get in the way of honest disclosure regarding authentic experience that is in many cases coming from the heart. A heart is a terrible thing to refuse to acknowledge even if what their words are presenting are not in alignment with a poster who is posing to possess greater knowledge. There can be no recourse for the one who is spilling their heart to the world in this case but to withdraw and cease to speak of their spiritual growth.
Which on a spiritual type forum is a disaster. Those who speak their hearts from experience and outside of traditional belief systems do not want their sacred journeys to become soiled by the righteous few who have not cultivated sensitivity towards sensitive subject matters such as inner journeys, so seldom spoken of coherently. It is a real treat in other words, to come across such a poster and is directly responsible for that forums popularity if it does occur. Such heart disclosures can be cultivated, for we all, young and old, soul wise or not, stand on the precipice of a new age where communication must start coming from the heart in a spirit of allowance and loving understanding.
I'm sure most of us can relate to being on a forum where one will tend to try to lead the entire forum in a direction to their liking so that said forum becomes all about them, but not about all of us together. I would say to stay emotionally detached from persons on a forum and not be drawn into their issues as for all you know they are in dire need of a psychologist, yet it is not your place, as would-be moderator to inform them of this; shall we say, opinion.
In this case withdrawal from that platform may be necessary in order to maintain some sense of sanity for your own self. For the most part I'm speaking of an unmoderated forum and playing up the need for a good moderator or two who neither takes the offensive easily, nor fall into the defensive posture. In addition, sometimes the most loving thing to do, if you are so inclined as to believe in love's value, is to simply say nothing; other times you feel you must speak out if you cannot hold back the tide of passion to communicate..love.
To reiterate my point I am an ACIM student/teacher who lives the doctrine and thus proves to myself, that the concepts are working ones and produce results if practiced. I rarely preach on the subject matter but rather find ways to make my point without directly utilizing Course language.
It is rather like if in a foreign land, I learn to speak the language of the locals, rather than ask them to learn my language and communication this way is better. I must say that I do feel like I'm on a safari in the jungle at times. That will be the case for any who dare to step outside of traditionally accepted dogma and general consensus agreements. The best way is to express the loving gesture rather than make real by resisting another's truth. That is to remain emotionally unattached to outcome; every moderator's goal in the end.
As it so happened a poster had come to ask the board's opinion about ACIM, as to whether they should look into it and what did we think? Knowing this was my own element I tactfully answered yes, they should indeed take a look at the material, as it was free to do so on the internet and thus draw their own conclusions whether to follow this path. ACIM is a path quite the same as Methodism, or Buddism, or any other thought system. I could have spoken at greater length in my enthusiasm for the material, however, since the poster above me was recommending that the questioner not look at the material, I was making an effort to be discreet, that the questioner should not take our word for it, but go and have a serious look themselves, and it mattered not to me whether they should enjoy the material or decide it was not for them. I don't believe that all that can be disclosed about ACIM can be disclosed on a mere post thread. It is a path, as complicated as any other belief system, and no belief system should be dismissed as easily as we do sometimes based on virtually no real evidence but a series of capitalized forum shout downs.
I figure I have no right, nor has anyone, to tell another not to look at something and decide for themselves if it is for them. As we go through life, it is imperative we look at everything that is offered, to gain more intellectual prowess and then to go out and live the creed we've accepted, at which point, if it works for you, stay with it. If it does not work, there are other learnings to master first.
For instance, I've carried with me the book Urantia for many years now, knowing I understand it not, but knowing someday I will master those misunderstandings and gain what is there and then I shall not carry it with me but I will have gained the essence of the truth within it.
For the moment, a heart path illustrating in the background, a little running and whispering river is symbolic of my knowledge of ACIM concepts and the comfort the river affords my daily life is quite enough in my daily communications. Since I had posted the 2nd response to the questioner, the first response being the naysayer, I assume the naysayer was feeling put down and that I was speaking to him when I voiced my approval of ACIM. I was not responding to the naysayer at all. I was talking to the original poster to suggest they indeed, scrutinize the material themselves.
I was not attempting to one-up the naysayer as he unjustly implied. I was expressing my love of ACIM in the briefest possible way for the subject matter is entirely too vast for a general board such as what we had.
Nonetheless the verbal shouter utilizing exclamation points to reference his anger was appalled that I disagreed with him. I grew perplexed that he should think that we would be in agreement about everything and that he should get angry to discover we were not in agreement but diametrically opposed. After getting over some of my shock at being treated as if I knew not what I was talking about to recommend to this poor seeker after knowledge a book about miracle minded people who seek peaceful means of relating in the world I replied with a bit of logic we were all entitled to our opinions here, namely it was part and parcel of freedom of speech. Then I slowly departed the so-called battlefield as I observed the naysayer did not want to be disputed and would sooner than not, beat upon a dead horse for eternity in self righteous manner, driving tons of nails into the coffin of our previous passable relationship. It is never ever wrong for us to demand respect. Not undue respect, but just a natural respect for each person's differences whether we like them or not.
This attitude does not allow for further communication on the subject, nor on any further subject matter, for if a person's energy is inclined to dominate, than another subject matter won't change that fact. Indeed, many will assume it's no longer safe to speak your heart. Exploration becomes out of the question. Being the #1 poster, I suffered to realize I was leaving my friends who believed in me and appreciated my posts, no matter the subject that was being discussed.
To conclude I believe I work for the good of the whole, but the singular individual is but a part of the whole. Rather than demonstrate hostility and a bunch of negative feelings, I felt it was for the good of the board that I vacate the scene after 10 years of feeling like they were my 2nd family, even if they were not Course students, it did not matter; most were friendly and we consequently had some great learning experiences. I do teach who I am mostly by example of my behavior, so then my leaving was indeed making a statement I would not allow another to treat me disrespectfully and I expected that this statement would rub off on the other posters at some point, never to allow a person to influence your decision as to what you will read and what you won't read. I would also like to address the abused ladies out there who think it's the woman's place to allow hubby to wipe his feet on your apron. Listen my lovelies, the world is swinging over to the fairer sex and high time. Do not stand for disrespect.
Trust yourself to choose wisely. And I am indeed sorry that one I so admired at first got the wrong idea about who I am. I have become indomitable through the experiences of my life, ACIM being one of those experiences, and I must say whatever path you are on is always the right one. A very fine mentor of mine, not exactly a Coursie, however he does support the Course said something distinctly Coursie; he said "an enlightened person finds themselves ever more speaking in love." It becomes like a spiraling inner energy within that an unkind insensitive word is never uttered by your own lips as this adds to the total of suffering in the world and you really wouldn't want to be creating dharma for yourself to clean up, and this may be , called enlightenment process.
Therefore the first step may be to speak of no evil and then the evil fades away in it's nothingness. Focus on love, understanding and leave the battle ground to those who fight amongst themselves as in competition of who is right and who is wrong.
In our heavens there are no wars such as this. We have risen above. The light is blinding but our eyes adjust to the truth that forces of darkness shall not prevail against us, we who are joined as one.
The constitution was a work of Light. Freedom of speech is a must to grow into more of our true selves. Be kind to one another for all battle with themselves the pangs of feeling so limited in a human body, and the misery of such is to not be able to express that love flowering within. But go ahead and express it anyway. Someone will hear, I guarantee it.