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Discussion: TotJO Culture Problems

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23 Dec 2017 06:25 - 23 Dec 2017 06:26 #309407 by Cyan Sarden

steamboat28 wrote: I think there's plenty of room for that here that we've ignored, honestly. While I agree with most of the points in the last post, I don't believe that we--we Jedi, using a fictional word from a film franchise--need exclude the Star Wars canon from our mythos. I feel that there's much to be learned by taking that canon alongside the underpinnings it represents, and that by denying ourselves wisdom from any fountain, we'll slowly die of thirst.


I don't mean to exclude it completely - it's the reason for most people to be here. It's always been part of TotJO, but it's been getting a bit much lately. We used to put an emphasis on real-life applications, the underlying philosophy etc. Today it seems to be totally ok when people join and promptly post 50 pics of themselves wielding lightsabers and talking about how they move objects with their minds. That's the kind of thing I believe we could do without - so we can focus on our core values again instead.

Do not look for happiness outside yourself. The awakened seek happiness inside.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 06:26 by Cyan Sarden.
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23 Dec 2017 12:04 - 23 Dec 2017 12:17 #309417 by Zenchi
I'd like to take a minute to address the elephant in the room, that no one seems to either want to acknowledge or is unfortunately oblivious to...

We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...

I do apologize if my actions previously have offended. If words however are going to set you off, if mere words are going to make you have an episode, then forums, even Jedi forums, are not where you need to be. The internet is not a safe place, this forum is not a safe place, please understand that. No amount of preparation is going to make it so, as many here are sincerely wanting training (real training) and are also not experienced with dealing with these types...

Do we turn away the hopeful student for the individual who is using this forum for a form of therapy and a safe place? Do we turn away the psychologically damaged to cater to the students who can handle themselves in a forum like atmosphere? You can't cater to both, because there will always be individuals from both sides who rub each other the wrong way thinking this site should be something else...

You can't have your cake and eat it too, unfortunately...

We can however, make this an environment where the majority of people passing through our doors are being benefited to some degree. How do we accomplish this?

By NOT over reacting to words.....

The VAST majority of people pulling the "I'm offended" shtick are using it to control others, and it really needs to stop. Again, this isn't a safe place, we get thousands of people coming through our site every month, understand the magnitude of this, please. Does it mean I and everyone else here working in office needs to step up their game, of course. I am as guilty if not more so than the next guy, and I'll admit it. Again, if my words have offended previously, I humbly apologize, I will put my best foot forward to improve. But cease thinking you can throw a fit, and start drama in attempts to control another, you will be met with resistance...

In regards to the "lack of camaraderie," we have weekly hangouts, we ask all attending participate, as it ensures a better flow and overall feel for everyone attending. I've had to sit the last two out, I will be hosting tomorrow's live Cantina chat, everyone's invited...

The saturation of Star Wars, the only way to fix it is to change the name of the site, every movie coming out is going to most assuredly bring more people who do not understand what this Temple is about, if the pictures are bothering you, don't look. If the Star Wars threads are rubbing you the wrong way, don't read. If you don't feel there is enough content focusing on what you feel is important, then PLEASE start writing your own...

My Word is my Honor, and my Honor is my Life ~ Sturm Brightblade
Passion, yet Serenity
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Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 12:17 by Zenchi.
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23 Dec 2017 12:43 - 23 Dec 2017 12:44 #309420 by jzen

Zenchi wrote: I'd like to take a minute to address the elephant in the room, that no one seems to either want to acknowledge or is unfortunately oblivious to...

We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...

I do apologize if my actions previously have offended. If words however are going to set you off, if mere words are going to make you have an episode, then forums, even Jedi forums, are not where you need to be. The internet is not a safe place, this forum is not a safe place, please understand that. No amount of preparation is going to make it so, as many here are sincerely wanting training (real training) and are also not experienced with dealing with these types...

Do we turn away the hopeful student for the individual who is using this forum for a form of therapy and a safe place? Do we turn away the psychologically damaged to cater to the students who can handle themselves in a forum like atmosphere? You can't cater to both, because there will always be individuals from both sides who rub each other the wrong way thinking this site should be something else...

You can't have your cake and eat it too, unfortunately...

We can however, make this an environment where the majority of people passing through our doors are being benefited to some degree. How do we accomplish this?

By NOT over reacting to words.....

The VAST majority of people pulling the "I'm offended" shtick are using it to control others, and it really needs to stop. Again, this isn't a safe place, we get thousands of people coming through our site every month, understand the magnitude of this, please. Does it mean I and everyone else here working in office needs to step up their game, of course. I am as guilty if not more so than the next guy, and I'll admit it. Again, if my words have offended previously, I humbly apologize, I will put my best foot forward to improve. But cease thinking you can throw a fit, and start drama in attempts to control another, you will be met with resistance...

In regards to the "lack of camaraderie," we have weekly hangouts, we ask all attending participate, as it ensures a better flow and overall feel for everyone attending. I've had to sit the last two out, I will be hosting tomorrow's live Cantina chat, everyone's invited...

The saturation of Star Wars, the only way to fix it is to change the name of the site, every movie coming out is going to most assuredly bring more people who do not understand what this Temple is about, if the pictures are bothering you, don't look. If the Star Wars threads are rubbing you the wrong way, don't read. If you don't feel there is enough content focusing on what you feel is important, then PLEASE start writing your own...



This.... Zenchi addresses are real issue here, that we are not equipped to substitute for real therapy. It is becoming increasingly apparent that people are being drawn to the site because they are looking for mental help, something we can't provide in any kind of professional capacity. This results in conflict because we feel the need to help, when in reality, we should be referring them to a place where they can get the help they need. In some cases, we may be causing them more damage because this isn't a safe space. In my time here, the thing I've noticed the most is that nothing is sacred, and that includes other's feelings lol. Incoming people should know that we can't serve as a substitute for professional help, and then be able to provide resources to those that need them.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 12:44 by jzen.
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23 Dec 2017 14:42 #309433 by Avalon
I want to quote something someone said a few posts back: "We used to be a refuge for those seeking personal change and development of their character."

You know what that includes: development of mental health.

No, we're not professionals. I'm sure we might have a professional or two amongst us, but we, as a temple, are not professions. But you know what we are? A church.

In my experience in dealing with clergy, part of the reason why clergy members (in America) are given clergy-layperson privilege (in America) is because they receive some level of training that equips them with the ability to help those struggling mentally. I personally received a number of counselling sessions from a Pastor when I was living in Georgia because part of her clergy training included helping those who suffered from depression, addiction, PTSD, and so forth.

Now I'm not saying that our clergy doesn't do that, because I haven't looked at the training our clergy go through, nor am I saying that our clergy ought to go out and receive formal training that allows them to become formalized therapists. What I am saying is that people see us calling ourselves a church, and so they come here looking for the same kind of support they might expect at a standard brick and mortar church.

That includes personal outreach to those who appear to be struggling, practicing of empathy and compassion, and a willingness to help support those who are on hard times. I wrote once years ago that in communities which thrive, when a person is obviously struggling emotionally, the community rallies around them to help support them. This helps the person who is struggling gain the strength and learn the skills they need, and then in turn once they become more stable themselves, they are able to contribute back to that community by upholding the next person who is struggling.

I had this conversation with another member of the site a few days ago (two other members now actually, though I'm sure the sentiment has been echoed in conversations with more than that): TOTJO has become a community which shows newcomers that if they don't have it all there completely, then we have no place for them. We don't want to be that community that upholds those who are struggling. It's ironic, because our doctrine has strong elements which say otherwise.

But when someone new comes in with their "baggage" the vibe we give off is "Either you drop that at the door, or you might as well just leave." And I'm sorry, but that's not what a church is, what a church does. So our biggest problem lines in the fact that we call ourselves a church, which gives off a perception to those coming in, and yet act otherwise.



So what do I think can be done to improve this?

Well first, regarding the clergy (and please, I'm not trying to bash, just draw attention to where I see a major issue), I'd like to draw attention back to the job description of the Outreach Pastor . So far, the majority that I've seen come out of the Outreach Team has been related to community service. By no means am I saying that's a bad thing! It helps portray the temple in a positive light to the communities around us. But.... that's not what the job description said.

When I talk with those who I've seen struggling around the site, the majority of them have said something to the lines of they haven't had someone from the clergy reach out to them. Yes, we have a "chat with the clergy" button at the top of the site, but often times those who come through here struggling are also the sort that mentally think to themselves "Well I don't want to bother them." Back to my personal experience mentioned above, the only reason I ended up speaking with that Pastor I mentioned is because they first approached me. "How are you doing? You seem a little down." So instead of waiting for the person who's obviously struggling to reach out to you, extend the first hand instead. And I'm not saying that that's not happening, but it's obviously an area that requires improvement.

Now, to the rest of us:
We need to become better at exercising empathy and compassion.

In speaking with others about my own struggles, I've had three types of conversations. First, the kind where the listener listens, but is obviously distracted or simply doesn't care. Second, the kind where the listener actually engages with me and expresses empathy and compassion. And third, which is very hard to distinguish from the second, the sort where the listener listens and engages with me, but the empathy and compassion that they are portraying is obviously tinted by the way they've responded to similar situations they've faced themselves. And when I said this, I don't mean the kind of situation where they say something along the lines of "Well, have you tried [x]... It's helped me in the past" but rather they say something along the lines of "I've gone through [x], [y], [z] before and I pulled myself out of it, so you should just do it too." While well meaning, this is a false empathy and often times does the exact opposite of what the listener is trying to do, which is help.

So that brings me to part two of this comment: tough love. There's a place and a time for it, and often times when I see it being used, it's being used to such an extent that it becomes inappropriate. Sure, it can be helpful in certain circumstances, but tough love is something best used sparingly and in small doses. "You did this to yourself" can go three ways: "You did this to yourself. Now what can I do to help you get back out?" Tough love used appropriately. "You did this to yourself. Figure it out on your own." Depends on the situation and the people involved. "You did this to yourself, stop bugging me!" Yeah, no... Why did you even bother to help then? Sadly, I see a lot of the third going on here, and little to none of the first, and it didn't used to be that way. I've also seen the argument that if tough love causes someone problems, then they're likely "too far gone" anyway, but that's where learning to practice it appropriately, and in conjunction with compassion, becomes important. Because if you're doing it right, then your "tough love" is far less likely to cause more problems than it helps to resolve.

So to conclude those two points: Be careful that you're practicing true empathy and compassion and not injecting your own personal experiences into what a struggling person is going through. Just because you've learned abilities to cope with that exact same struggle doesn't mean the other person has learned those same abilities or that those abilities will even work for that person at all. Second, learn how to apply "tough love" appropriately. For those of you who practice it regularly, you won't violate who you are as a person to tone it down and sprinkle it with compassion. And for those of you who never practice it, you won't violate who you are by standing up from time to time either. All three of these things are spokes on the same wheel, working in tandem, not against one another.

Now, I've already seen the argument in here about how we feel compelled to help out those or we can't help everyone or something to that effect. So here's what I've observed in my four years here: We used to be much better at doing what I said above. The problem is, the people who were best at doing that have either fallen to the sideline or left completely out of exhaustion, because they were one of the only ones doing it. Like I said before, the truly successful communities do this all together. People get exhausted and burned out when they're the only ones doing it, and the only way for us to get back to where we used to be is for everyone to take up the mantle. But that means some are going to need to learn, and accept, new ways of communicating, on everyone's part.

Finally, conflict has slowly been becoming a new norm around here, I feel, and it's already been commented on to an extent. I would echo those comments, but I would add to them as well. When public conflict arises, if it doesn't involve you, stay out of it. Oh sure, I understand that itch to get your word in, even given into it from time to time myself, but it doesn't help in the long run.

One thing I realized during one of our more recent bouts of public conflict is that, as an outsider looking in, the points of miscommunication were very obvious. One thing I know from experience is the moment you move from the outside to participant, the points of miscommunication blur or disappear completely. I understand the desire to defend your friend, but the moment you take up that attitude, you can no longer be impartial and you lose site of how the conflict even began. And often times, conflict can be avoided entirely if we were to do what I mentioned above: practice empathy and compassion and temper our use of "tough love". No, it won't eliminate conflict all together, but it sure might help keep it popping up as frequently.



In short: The problems that I observe here are born out of what people expect a 'church' to be, and what we really are.

Outreach to those who are struggling needs to happen more when the struggle is observed, not simply waiting for the "struggler" to reach out first. When you say you're going to be there for someone, actually be there. If they stop reaching out to you, reach out to them instead. It could just be that they need something as simple as a reminder that you still care and want to help out.

Empathy and compassion need to become a bit more common place, and we all need to learn how to balance applying "tough love" to those around us. The three are meant to work together with one another, not against one another.

We're a community that needs to learn how to uplift and support as a community, not as individuals. Self care is important, yes, which is why we can't do it all by ourselves and need to learn how to do it as a community.

When conflict arises, if it doesn't involve you to begin with, stay out of it. Provide emotional support to your friends who are involved behind the scenes, but recognize the fact that if you get publicly involved, you're going to lose clear sight of the conversation.

No, we aren't a group of professional therapists. But we are a church. Let's start acting like one.

(And before anyone says otherwise, I know that I've been guilty of doing the things I've said above in the past. This commentary is as much to remind myself (and it's something I've been working to improve in myself) as it is to inspire a thought process in everyone else.)

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23 Dec 2017 15:08 - 23 Dec 2017 15:12 #309435 by Manu

Zenchi wrote: We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...


You are not a police officer. You see someone being raped. Do you not still try to help?

People who "switch" religions usually are not in the best place. to brush them off because we cannot provide perfect help is lazy.

The truth is something that burns. It burns off dead wood. And people don't like having the dead wood burnt off, often because they're 95 percent dead wood. - Jordan Peterson
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 15:12 by Manu.
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23 Dec 2017 15:25 #309438 by Arisaig
Replied by Arisaig on topic Discussion: TotJO Culture Problems

Manu wrote:

Zenchi wrote: We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...


You are not a police officer. You see someone being raped. Do you not still try to help?

People who "switch" religions usually are not in the best place. to brush them off because we cannot provide perfect help is lazy.


We do say in the FAQ (somewhere) that we are not a substitute for mental health. Yes, we can assist. Heck, this place has done wonders for my own health (physically, mentally, spiritually, ect)... but I was mostly okay, and did a lot of personal work. I didn't expect anyone to solve my problems for me, nor did anyone.

I wish we could save everyone, help everyone... but we can't, and we don't have the ability to help everyone who walks in the doors. Healing, true healing, starts from within. Lean on the pillars of the Temple if you must, but know you're still standing on two feet while leaning, and eventually you'll be able to stand on your own. We are not a replacement for anyone's legs, nor will we carry everyone.

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23 Dec 2017 15:30 #309440 by steamboat28
The problem with this line of thinking is that it ignores the necessary support structures for developing and self-healing. Those support structures are usually based in community. When we have a lack of community, we aren't giving people the tools they need to rebuild their own foundations, regardless of what wisdom we have in the library.

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23 Dec 2017 15:34 #309441 by jzen

Manu wrote:

Zenchi wrote: We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...


You are not a police officer. You see someone being raped. Do you not still try to help?

People who "switch" religions usually are not in the best place. to brush them off because we cannot provide perfect help is lazy.


I can't speak for Zenchi, but I don't think that is what he was getting at. Sure, a certain amount of compassion should be considered on each individual basis, but we need to have resources to direct these people to that aren't part of the Temple. There is not only a liability issue that must be considered, but also if the help we think we're giving to someone is actually causing more harm. This isn't a pawn off or being lazy, it's common sense. Helping with guidance down some sort of spiritual path isn't the same as dealing with someone that has mental health issues. To think we are somehow equipped to deal with that as things are right now, (especially considering the state of emotional tension on the forums), I think this is pretty dangerous.... just my two cents.
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23 Dec 2017 15:49 #309444 by Zenchi

jzen wrote:

Manu wrote:

Zenchi wrote: We are getting more and more people coming through our doors that don't quite have it together upstairs, many of which are using this forum for their needs, most of these individuals are psychologically damaged, and are coming here looking for this forum to take the place of professional therapy and medication, and we are NOT equipped to meet their needs...


You are not a police officer. You see someone being raped. Do you not still try to help?

People who "switch" religions usually are not in the best place. to brush them off because we cannot provide perfect help is lazy.


I can't speak for Zenchi, but I don't think that is what he was getting at. Sure, a certain amount of compassion should be considered on each individual basis, but we need to have resources to direct these people to that aren't part of the Temple. There is not only a liability issue that must be considered, but also if the help we think we're giving to someone is actually causing more harm. This isn't a pawn off or being lazy, it's common sense. Helping with guidance down some sort of spiritual path isn't the same as dealing with someone that has mental health issues. To think we are somehow equipped to deal with that as things are right now, (especially considering the state of emotional tension on the forums), I think this is pretty dangerous.... just my two cents.


EXACTLY. We are not equipped, and nether are our students. What a few of you who are so apt to jump to conclusions in a rather vain attempt at making a point are forgetting is issues regarding to liability. Our own clergy are not equipped to deal with this problem, much less the rest of the faculty AND the rest of the membership. Our numbers are in the THOUSANDS, with hundreds active at any given time. The only way to effectively even begin to ensure someone's feelings don't get hurt are to separate those in desperate need from the majority of our forums, simply put. Is that possible?

The act in itself is sure to offend and insult.....

I'm learning from my mistakes, but I'm also not oblivious to the fact that as it stands, we can't possibly assist and help every single individual walking in our Temple, and NO, that doesn't translate to myself being uncompassionate or not having empathy, it's being realistic...

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23 Dec 2017 16:01 #309448 by steamboat28
We're not trying to "help" every single individual. We are, however, trying to build a community to encourage them helping themselves, which is something we actually can do with compassion and empathy, whether or not any individual believes it's possible.

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