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Pull Up A Chair…

Have been on a Beatles kick lately, but this video of the younger Fab Four singing "Help" was too good to miss this morning. 

Yesterday, in discussing the Team Libby sentencing arguments memorandum, we got into a few touchier subjects in the comments, which led to a wholesale discussion about thread civility and the sort of tension that has been much more evident for the last few weeks.  Egregious had a comment which I thought summed up the problem and the way forward wonderfully:

I think people were expecting too much from the change in Congress after the elections. Congress can only work so fast, and there are so many different scandals. They can’t clean up in 6 months what the Republicans have taken years to destroy. I have the privilege of knowing people in both chambers and have some idea what their workload is like.

In particular, I think people are reacting viscerally to the Iraq vote which can be debated for its pros and cons [and I do have some insights to share when the temperature goes down a little] but overall people were disgusted with this blown opportunity.

This community did NOT savage each other the way that many progressive blogs did right after that vote. It speaks very highly of the community building that has been done here, and Christy, your strong leadership in this regard has made all the difference.

Folks: Marathon, not sprint. Are we going to say to the next generation, well, we gave it a try after the elections, but gave up after 6 months? DON’T GIVE UP. We are fighting for long run solutions.

This is so true, and something that we all forget from time to time, so it is worth a reminder every once in a while that while we may want a hero to ride in on a white steed and fix all the nation's ills…we aren't going to get one. We have to be our own heroes, that is how things are now and how they always have been.  We must be the change we wish to see. (Yes, I know, way too zen this early. Go and get yourself another cuppa coffee and come back. This gets better…)

rwcole and Bustedknuckles had some further thoughts on this that I'd like to share with everyone.  First, rwcole:

Sounds as if the core of the problem is posters taking shots at one another. Guess the only thing you can do is to make it clear that it won’t be tolerated and then show that you mean it- which I think you do.

The other thing that can be done- and you do it- is to model appropriate behavior for handling disagreement- respectful exchange of opinion should be valued-. Disagreement should be valued- rudeness not tolerated.

And then Bustedknuckles follows up with this:

RW, It’s kinda like a big family get together sometimes. There is always going to be friction at one point or another. I agree that Redd and Jane and our outstanding mods do a hell of a job keeping the place civil and as a long time poster I will occasionally jump in and try to keep things in line. I don’t know if thats a problem, but I at least try. Other posters also will jump in to calm things down. The problem of not having face to face and voice inflection is often to blame. We have lost a lot of good folks over the years and I would like to see this place flourish as it is a lone spot of sanity in this world.

We are often like a big, loud family from day to day. We worry about Tommy Yum's son Esten, and about Jane's chemo (which is still going well, btw). We ask about Balrog's new baby, and when someone loses someone close to them — including pets — we all take a moment to reflect with them and offer some condolences. And someone, although I cannot remember who at the moment, came up with a great way to remove crayon marks from my eggshell-white walls when The Peanut was younger.  (Can't believe I have been blogging for more than a year and a half.  Just doesn't seem possible.)  It really is as though we have developed these strange little pockets of care and concern and genuine feeling, although most of us know each other by a nickname and a history of comments on a computer screen.

It is funny how that works, but it really does work for us, by and large.

So, I wanted to take a little time this morning to just say thanks to everyone for the effort you put in here at FDL.  Your comments make the conversation so much richer.  And all the reader e-mails that I get from folks — a lot of whom don't comment, but whose e-mails are amazing — you add so many more levels of thought process to everything I write.  Jane and I often talk about the great ideas we get from our readers and say that we have the best group of folks around the blogosphere having an ongoing, evolving conversation here every day.  I value that more than I can really say, so thank you.

For all of you out there who read, but don't comment, please take a little time to introduce yourself at some point.  This blog is all the richer when we add new voices, new ideas, new thoughts into the mix — because something new can stimulate a whole new spark on a topic that perhaps none of us have even considered.  And it may be the very topic about which you are very knowledgeable and incredibly passionate.  So please, do share with all of us.

While I am thinking about it, let us all take a moment of gratitude and thank our lucky stars for the lovely moderators who keep the threads tidy and as free of invective as possible for all of the rest of us.  They make the reading more enjoyable and SPAM free for all of you, and they keep me sane.  You would not believe the dreck…well, actually, you probably would, but I am grateful nonetheless and say a hearty "thank you" to all of them.

All of this to say, we are all in this together.  That is as much true of this entire nation of ours as it is about this one little corner of it on FDL.  No matter how much nastiness and bickering and mudslinging and whatever else some consultant dreams up for any given race or scandal, the bottom line is that we all have to deal with the big problems — and we have to face them head on, horrible facts and all, together.  We don't do that nearly often enough, frankly, because we are all so busy talking past each other most of the time.  And no, I am not giving up on my snark any time soon, but there are so many issues upon which a majority of Americans agree these days you would think that we could make some progress on some of them, wouldn't you?

The same goes for the micro-level here at FDL.  Any good relationship gets nurtured.  We fight, we make up, we move forward.  But of all of those, the moving forward is the most important thing — that's what my Granny told me anyway, right before I got married all of fourteen years ago, and she was right.  She also told me that anyone can talk an awful lot, but very few people ever really learn to listen — and that the very best friends and spouses learn to listen.

What are your thoughts on all of this?  I'm all ears.  So pull up a chair…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com