Common Public Courtesy

I’m not sure why the following counsel (complete content here) appeals to me. There is a part of me that wants to point fingers at those who fail to heed it. But there is another part of me that knows I am the one who needs to have such wisdom always before me.

In short, the wisdom is as follows:

1. Don’t write things about people you’d be afraid to tell them in person.

This is, of course, particularly true in the digital age. It is just as wise to assume that anything you might say publicly will eventually end up in the hands of the one about whom you have spoken or written.

Related is this:

2. Be willing to encounter people you’ve criticized.

If we keep this in mind, we will seek to keep our criticism at a level that is rational, temperate, and respectful.

That this latter piece of advice comes from a young Ralph Nadar should take nothing away from it.

Once early in my ministry, a difficult letter had to be written to a person in the church. One of the elders wisely counseled me to write the letter but to not send it. Rather, he said, deliver it. Speak its content face to face. To hide behind the typewriter was a coward’s way of dealing with conflict.

Digital communication makes it easier for me to be a coward. Loving our neighbor does not mean that we must be silent unless we are face to face with them – face-on communication is not always possible. But love for neighbor does mean that we should never speak about someone in a way that we would not be willing to speak were they sitting across the table from us.