Time Heals All Wounds, And Then Kills the Patient
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Wed Aug 29 17:01:10 2012

One of the mental habits I aspire to (but don't always manage) when criticising religion is to imagine that all my conversations are overheard by a select set of the people I've known in life who are religious. Priests, Rabbis, evangelists on campus, muslims, judaists, and the like. I don't imagine I'm talking *with* them; person-to-person speech needs to be topically appropriate and more care is appropriate (it is ok to make fun of a group in mass-oriented speech, not so cool to make fun of someone specifically). My aim isn't to be unable to laugh, or criticise, or so on, but to try to have some fairness and care-to-normativity mixed in. I do this with the expectation that they're allowed to make fun of or criticise my views too; in a perspective-pluralist society, I call this a truce-aiming perspective, not a peace-aiming one.

I am fundamentally ok with saying that I hope atheism wins out in the end, as a long-term perspective. I am also okay with people who hope their religion wins out in the end. Just like with politics, I don't expect friendships to require similar views. I do expect occasional difficult moments and difficult conceptual clashes in society and in interpersonal relationships. I had good practice for dealing with this because of the way my family works.

There are occasions where this mental habit fails me and I feel regret; not that some random person would feel offended; that's a normal part of lfe with expressive individuals, but rather that the specific boundary laid out by this mental habit approximates an aspect of fairness, and stepping beyond that reflects badly on someone. (My goal here is to define both a standard for what is acceptable to say and what types of offense are the things we should just accept)