Let me first say that I have been humbled to have learned anew how important the TypePad site was to many people as a safe space, a home — or an inn, at least, or oasis — where one could be and connect without being reminded at every turn that there are others, far too many others, who think there’s something wrong with you, or who blame you just for being you, blame you for your identity, your history, your very existence.
And I am saddened and sorry for having pulled the rug out from under that safe space by relocating here, to a busier intersection where the echoes of many voices — some friendly, some hostile or hurtful or just uncomprehending — make the re-creation of that kind of safe space seem unlikely.
It is good for me to be here, among all those many voices, where I can seek to encourage and amplify the friendly ones and challenge those that are hostile. But it is not at all good for those of you who, rightfully, want and need and deserve a place apart from the pain of that cacophony. And it is not fair for me to drag you here with me just because I am looking to engage in the very same heated arguments that you’re wanting and needing and deserving to avoid.
See, I’m lucky. I have received “favours,” John Woolman would have said, although a more precise word would be to say that I am privileged. I have the luxury of abstracting myself from those voices and those arguments at any time. I have the privilege of choosing to seek them out because I have the privilege of not being barraged by them 24/7/365. I have the privilege, in other words, of not constantly being told that there’s something wrong with me, that I must be ashamed of my identity or my history or my very existence.
Most of my life occurs within a safe space far safer and more sheltered than any online community could every provide. And so it’s very easy for me to forget how “favoured” that makes me — to forget that this is what “privileged” means, that most people do not enjoy that luxury. So thank you for reminding me. I am sure I will need to be reminded again.
That privilege allows and enables me to seek out and engage a larger argument — one that sometimes involves wading into and rubbing up against voices and ideas that others cannot ever escape and thus should not be asked to abide. In a sense, it also obliges me to do so. “As a Christian, I may be permitted to quote from St. Luke: ‘Much will be asked of him because he was entrusted with more.'” (I’m invoking E.F. Schumacher there, in part, to avoid invoking Stan Lee.)
Which brings us to the present crossroads. For those who found comfort at the TypePad site but find no comfort here, I want that site to remain a haven and a home. And so I have passed it along to others who are well-equipped to ensure that it will remain what it has been for you. Not to strangers, but to members of this community who understand it and understand you and who can and will serve you well.
I very much hope that this will be received in the spirit in which it is intended. Not as an abandonment, but as an effort to empower others to ensure that a vital task is not abandoned and, far more importantly, that people are not abandoned. (This is where Spidey was only partly right. With power comes responsibility — but not just a responsibility to employ the privilege of power on behalf of others, but a responsibility to step aside and yield that power to others.)
For the purposes of creating and ensuring a safe space for inclusive community, I think this will be an improvement. I have never been good at monitoring comments, and I think the community as a whole will do a better job of that, and of giving that important task the care and attention I have never given it. Above the fold, I have often published posts that I realize are likely to provoke drive-by trolling and unfriendly mortar-fire in comments. I have often posted with an impatience and a lack of charity that can reasonably be expected to be responded to in kind (or in unkind). I sometimes pick fights. Those aren’t traits that are conducive to maintaining or preserving a safe space below the fold. Not here, but not there either. So this should be better.
I do not want to see a parting of the ways, but a passing of the baton.
This site — www.patheos.com/community/slacktivist/ — is where I will continue blogging. Fred Clark writes a blog called Slacktivist that is hosted at Patheos.
The community that came together at slacktivist.typepad.com can continue to seek and find and build a home there, and new voices will have a chance to emerge and to be heard in a context where they are empowered to speak. It is my sincere hope that there will be an ongoing interconnection — cross-pollination of ideas, opinions, concerns, humor, Doctor Who trivia, recipes, blue-footed boobies and mutual affection. How will all that work? I don’t know, exactly, I’ve never done this before. But of course — and here’s one lesson I have at least partly learned — it’s not only about me.
I deeply hope that those who were not pleased with my move to this new site will continue to read what I post here, but for those who cannot — for reasons of principle or protection — I hope that the TypePad site will become a place for you that this site cannot be, and I hope that you are as excited as I am by the possibility of what that site could grow to become. I wish you only the best.
All of this raises various technical and housekeeping details — some of which are still in process — and I realize that there are other questions and issues regarding this site that I also need to address or clarify, but let me save those for another post.