If I act, then another may react. Although my action may lead to the other person's reaction, the reaction was, nevertheless, chosen by the other person. If people react in a way that is ultimately self-defeating, then they may eventually realize it to be such. We are partly, but not fully, responsible for the actions that others take in response to our decisions. We should avoid being hurtful when possible, but it may be impossible to please all sides. (Note to self: example in ~/bol)
I got this email from one of the ANSWER-related announcement lists that I'm on calling on people to write letters to the Attorney General of Virginia because he has denied a permit for part of a route they want to march. I forwarded it to Paxus seeing as he lives in Virginia, and he wrote me back an email with the subject line of "ANSWER is no answer." I'm not going to argue; I have mixed feelings about them myself, although his largest issue with them was that, apparently, they have scheduled actions without permits without telling people that they had no permit and, thus, people were unknowingly risking arrest. I hadn't ever heard this before.
But it got me thinking that no organization or concept is likely to be "the answer." Each may be a part of an infinitely-expansive puzzle but should not be assumed to be the whole picture, although it may be sufficiently close to pass as being the whole when localized to a particular space and time. That is not to say that we should not look for root causes, but we should exercise caution if we believe we have found one.
When I took the Landmark Forum and some follow-up courses, I thought that they had "the answer." They had certain, and often useful, ways of looking at things, and taking the Forum may be a good way for many people to become exposed to new ideas, but it is not the only way in which one can learn the concepts. When I read The Lost Teachings of Atlantis, I thought that "the answer" lied within it. The reason for there being so much suffering in the world is that we are selfish and act as though we are separated from each other rather than as one. Makes perfect sense. It seemed like the answer--until I read Ishmael and two of its sequels, and Daniel Quinn directly challenges the notion that things would be better if only we were less selfish. He instead argues, as I read him, that our problems stem from decisions made around 10,000 years ago that put us ad odds with nature / the way we naturally evolved to be. Is his analysis any less correct than that in The Lost Teachings? I'm not sure. They are, perhaps, both pieces of a puzzle.
Similar things can be said about organizations. An organization can start by effectively fulfilling a mission but become relatively ineffective as it becomes focused on preserving itself. Organizations will be perceived by different people as having certain pluses and minuses, and one size does not fit all, although it can be useful for organizations with similar goals to work with each other. We need to have coalitions / networks of people that go beyond particular organizations so that the organizations can come and go and morph as appropriate to the situation. But this seems to become more difficult with scale.
After reading this post and one of imafarmgirl's posts, I'm coming to the conclusion that people separate themselves from others by claiming knowledge which they should not claim. I suppose this is basically an agnostic version of what Richard Dawkins was saying, that "religions faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive and it's dangerous." Only I don't think that he has it exactly right. As some people commenting in the unitarian_jihad post pointed out, these sorts of comments are themselves divisive and dangerous. Religious faith need not be dangerous. However, to assume that one's spiritual path is more correct than that of another is dangerous. Such assumptions usually grow out of assuming that a particular book is inerrant or that a particular leader is closer to God than any other person. Atheism does not make either assumption. However, strict materialism (which is not the same as atheism, although I'd associate Dawkins with it) does, in my view, require the discounting of certaint ypes of evidence which it cannot easily explain and which others will weigh differently. My point is that, while making these types of assumptions will make sense for some people, there is no reason to assume that all people should make them, so it is counter-productive to see others as obligated to share one's point of view when these types of assumptions are involved.
As James Twyman would say, "God has no religion. ... God is all religion, not just one."