Sadly almost unnoticed during the prolonged Scottish independence referendum campaign have been the wise words of a group called Collaborative Scotland. They urge ‘respectful dialogue’ and this seems to me a pretty good principle.
These are their guidelines:
- Show respect and courtesy towards all those who are engaged in these discussions, whatever views they hold
- Acknowledge that there are many differing, deeply held and valid points of view
- Use language carefully and avoid personal or other remarks which might cause unnecessary offence
- Listen carefully to all points of view and seek fully to understand what concerns and motivates those with differing views from our own
- Ask questions for clarification and when we may not understand what others are saying or proposing
- Express our own views clearly and honestly with transparency about our motives and our interests
- Respond to questions asked of us with clarity and openness and, whenever we can, with credible information.
I try – honestly I do – to stick more or less to this approach in my #indyref social media activity. That’s why some of my posts around the web seem a bit picky: challenging obviously deep emotionally held views with dull statistical fact (see for example my post on Trident – from which, incidentally, my view on the subject should not be inferred).
But it’s hard given the outright emotion and abuse the debate sometime engenders. A leavening of humour helps, if nothing else to try and keep my own balance.
If anyone’s (genuinely) offended by what I write here and elsewhere, my apologies. But argument need to be made and nonsense needs to be countered.