Political blogging isn’t known for respectful, civil debate. Most people who thrive in the blogosphere are aggressive and contentious, welcoming a tone of argument and escalation. R.J. Eskow, who blogs for the often-angry Huffington Post, doesn’t want to be one of these insult-hurling pundits. Eskow is bucking the raging-blogger tradition, seeking to hold himself to a higher standard.
Specifically, Eskow is trying to follow the ethical and spiritual teachings of Buddhist tradition. Writing in the western Buddhist magazine Tricycle, Eskow questions the tension between blogger rage and Buddhist serenity:
Can a person maintain equanimity and stay in the political debate? And what about the precept of right speech? It forbids lying, of course. But it also means no harsh words, rumor-mongering, or frivolous talk.
In today’s political dialogue, what’s left?
Eskow attempts to cultivate spiritual discipline without sacrificing his rhetorical efficacy. Eskow’s inability to maintain calm raises issues fundamental to both spiritual integrity and political change: Which is more important, faithfulness or effectiveness? More importantly, is there a third way? —Steve Thorngate