Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Should I Shut Up?

Scott Bradley

Before replying to the suggestion that I shut up, I would like to thank my critic for requiring me to do so. I will not, however, attempt to defend myself against her specific charges; indeed, I accept that they are all valid — from a certain point of view. (I might even make them myself!)

My most immediate response, though it may sound argumentative, is not intended to be so, but rather hopes to point to the very crux of the matter. That response is: What's it to you?

Why do you care about the rightness or wrongness of my blabbering, whether of content or of intention? When you have answered this question, you will have discovered the only thing that truly matters in our present discussion. I have beaten this horse before, but until it has been understood, there is still somewhere it might take us.

My point, as always, is that your response to my blabbering is about you, not about me. That is not to say my response now is about anything other than me, but given that you have questioned me, I must answer you. How and why I do so is my responsibility. What motivated you to question me is yours.

If you have a problem with me, it is your problem. But there is so much wrong with me! I do not dispute this. Only I would say that if my wrongness causes a problem for you, then the source of that problem resides in you, not me. If you have a problem with the sun because it is too hot, the problem is not with the sun.

We can discuss the particulars of my thoughts vis-a-vis your own, and both profit from the dialogue. But first we must realize the relative character of our own views. If we are not bound by a belief in 'objective truth' and 'right view', our own thoughts are not threatened by those of another, nor are they authenticated by rejecting those of another. It is then that we can truly learn together. This is the dialogue for which Zhuangzi hungered when he exclaimed, "Where can I find a man who has forgotten words, so I might have a few words with him?" (Zhuangzi, Chap. 26; Ziporyn)

There are, of course, other, more direct, answers to your criticism that as one who admittedly does not practice what he preaches, I should shut up. Since you have thankfully absolved me of the charge of hypocrisy, to which I could make no reply were it the case, I feel free to say that I continue to write because it is a 'skillful means' by which I grow. And though this may indeed be but a lowly 'cerebral' exercise, still it is one which I have found helpful.

Though it is encouraging that there are others who occasionally also find these blabberings helpful, this is not their true intent; that would be to presume too much. Of greater importance is the fact that no harm is being done and that the one who reads them presumably has chosen to do so.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. How funny...I thought Scott wrote the other piece himself, just to lead into something like this. I would like to make clear that it wasn't me!

    Not sure the "problem with the sun" analogy holds up. What if I have a problem with you because you are ill or an alcoholic or stubbornly incomprehensible. Yes, there is the option of abandoning the source of the probem --it's just me, I can't stand sick people and drunks and the illogical-- but intervention and dialogue at some point, if it is a person with whom you have a meaningful relationship, is warranted.

  2. If she is bothered by your views, she can stop reading them. Problem solved.

  3. Whoever has a problem with your writings can stop reading them.


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