I have a habit.
In the greater scheme of things it's not a bad habit. Certainly it's one I can live with. A fat pay-out from your charity of choice would of course be a wonderful help, and several weeks in the luxury of a prestigious detox clinic wouldn't go astray if you're willing to finance it.
But it's a hard habit to break.
You see, I'm a habitual devil's advocate, a serial trivialiser, an adherent of argument and pettiness for their own sake. I would argue the sky green to spite someone who annoys me. In person I'm quite good at it. Baffling people with bullshit and outlandish statements is merely the first level; the true art lies in creating a towering edifice of fast-spun philosophy, pseudo-religious koans and the very real suggestion of fact which combines to persuade others that there's something to the whole. No one is ever quite sure you're serious about anything, which adds a layer of potential authenticity to even the most abysmal garbage. Your consistency in argument becomes more convincing than your argument itself, which is always a happy situation. It's the foundation of economics and the wellspring of our modern age.
But this habit is also a curse. When I was a little younger I convinced a close friend that Falun Gong were a terrorist organisation. I used the usual rhetorical devices of such situations - 'no smoke without a fire' is a great thing to repeat in between discussions of relative influence, soft versus hard power and the (to him) inscrutability of the Orient. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when he started reading Ayn Rand and joined the Young Liberals I came to see that perhaps I'd gone a little too far. We no longer speak, but sometimes I wonder at the good he might have done if I hadn't decided to play a trick on him.
It's just so easy. You know how it is - JU is full of drama queens, dreamers, gifted writers and political hacks. For most of us reality is, in our opinion, whatever we say it is. There's barely a consistently lucid voice among us - Ockham's Razor, kingbee, Artysim, Gid (despite his sins he is at least terrifyingly consistent in word) and that religious writer who dropped off the radar a while ago are the only ones I can think of offhand who've posted recently. Honesty is more common, but let's not speak of honest people; they are to be loved and cherished, not lauded. Honesty is a courage entirely out of fashion with the times.
The problem comes when we let it influence our words when we don't want to. At times I find myself becoming unbelievably petty, particularly about politics, on this site. Most of the time I catch myself, but there've been several articles I'd had to refrain from further comment on because the next day I realised I had been unbelievably catty about something trivial. Certain people and certain issues bring it out more than others, but if live has one consistency it is that every day I could find something on JU to get in touch with my effeminate side about and start laying on with claws, a purpose for which I am utterly unsuited.
So I propose a truce. From the posting of this article onwards I will try to be accurate, succinct and patient in my views. I will strive to avoid bitchiness and jabs at people's insane views. I want to be a better person, capable of the same evenhanded and rational responses as those I mentioned earlier.
Above all I will strive to be reasonable. Wish me luck. I think I shall need it.