Like the good Buddhist that I'm not, I have boundless compassion for the sentient beings who visit this blog.
Largely, because I'm one myself.
Aside from proof-reading my own writings after they're posted, I read every comment, even when I have to grit my teeth and force myself.
So what produces the dreadful affliction, Comment Reading Aggravation? And how can it be prevented?
I covered these questions pretty well, in my non-humble opinion, last year in "Boxing up varieties of belief." Which began with...
Why do some people's proclamations irritate or please me more than other proclamations?
I'm speaking generally here, about all sorts of utterances. Verbal sayings. Blog posts and comments. Books. Magazine articles. Any way that someone communicates a belief from their brain into mine.
Sometimes I get an instant emotional rush of What the @#$%&! as soon as I register a communication that rates high on my irritation scale. Other belief messages produce a pleasant smile, and not just because I agree with what I've heard.
So what's going on here? What are the varieties of belief that generate such different reactions in me?
Understand, I'm all for spirited discussion and debate. But there needs to be some basic common-sense understanding of what gets talked about on this blog, and how opinions get expressed.
Like I said before, here's why opinion can morph into aggravation: if someone insists that other people should believe something, yet there aren't a lot of good reasons for that belief, the insistence comes across as a dogmatic assertion rather than a subjective opinion.
And that's the basic (irritating) stance of fundamentalists. "Believe it because I say so." Well, that isn't going to fly on a blog called Church of the Churchless. Or, anywhere else populated by open-minded people.
So please, commenters, pretty please with humility on top, use language appropriate to what you're talking about to avoid unnecessarily increasing my blood pressure -- and that of other blog visitors.
If you're speaking about God, metaphysics, ultimate reality, life after death, soul travel, and such, there aren't going to be a lot of good reasons for your beliefs.
If there were, they wouldn't be "beliefs." They'd be facts. So understand that other people are going to look upon your opinions as just that: opinions.
It's fine that you like them. Just leave off the thou shalt insistence that if other people don't share your opinions, they're deluded idiots.
Sometimes I'll respond to a comment in a testy fashion, calling the commenter a fundamentalist. Usually he or she disagrees. Yet I'm correct in assigning that label if the person demands that other people accept the truth of what he or she is saying without offering up good reasons for the assertion.
Which includes the ridiculous retort, "No, Brian, you're the fundamentalist because you and your churchless ilk have a dogmatic belief that God [or some other metaphysical entity] doesn't exist."
Wrong. Not believing isn't a belief. Not knowing isn't knowledge, except in the sense of Socrates:
"Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful or good, I am better off than he is -- for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him."
I'd say greatly the advantage.
So knowing when you know something that can be demonstrated to others, and when you don't, is advantageous to both ourselves and those with whom we interact.
Because we can't learn something new when we wrongly believe that we know it all. And people who are convinced they know what they really don't are hugely irritating to communicate with.