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Temple Renovation (30 May 2020)

The Temple has undergone renovations. Please see here for more details:

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Discussion: TotJO Culture Problems

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23 Dec 2017 16:14 #309450 by Manu

steamboat28 wrote: 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.


Exactly. I am not trying to say we should try to offer professional help which we are unqualified to do, but we can at least be a bit less abrasive in our approach.

I've seen people before communicate what the Temple can or cannot do in a manner that both sets firm boundaries and at the same time is very respectful and kind.

It costs us nothing to communicate kindness in our posts, and we have everything to gain from it.

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
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23 Dec 2017 16:37 - 23 Dec 2017 16:47 #309453 by Manami
"So what are your experiences, thoughts, and feelings on the matter? Where can we do better? Where are we doing good and why?"

I'm quoting Kit to frame my observations as a newcomer. I'm also speaking from almost three decades worth of experience in spiritual/initiatory communities - online and irl - and all of the problems discussed here so far have been ones we struggled with, regardless of the focus or name given to the group. If you've got something beneficial going on, you're going to draw in both people who are looking for a productive place to contribute their energy and work on their "stuff", and people who are drawn to feed off it. It's the age-old "free rider" problem (in organizational management theory), and it's especially problematic online. As such, conflict is inescapable, though it has to be managed in ways that preserve the productivity that will bring in and retain good members.

I'll start with the good - I've been quite happy with my interactions so far, and have enjoyed both the format of the Temple and the interactions I've had with members and other new people, most of whom express sincerity and a real desire to support the mission of the Temple. It's been easy to step around the conflict areas and to find the kind of people I want to interact with, and that's really all I ask for these days.

(Please feel welcome to do the spoiler clip thingy as necessary on the rest of this.)

As for conflict areas, my previous affiliation used a very clear guideline on how conflicts were to be handled and the expectations we had for members' behavior (a Pax Templi, or "Peace of the Temple" code). In looking over the FAQ, I don't see a "How to handle conflicts" section (and if I missed it while specifically looking for it, it's buried too deep.) I did see the general rules (RESPECT, language, etc.), but so far nothing that covers the primary problem I've seen in the forums: the tendency for a personal dispute to be made into a community discussion by dragging in supporters or being brought into unrelated threads. Once that contagion gets going, and/or personality feuds become part of the culture, it's very hard to manage and also makes it a confusing and unwelcoming place for new people.

A clear Peace code should outline:
1) The rights and responsibilities of members in discussions and a reminder of the community's purpose (this section usually includes the policy on respectful language, profanity, bullying, etc. as well as what people can expect from members - we're usually not licensed therapists, you are expected to find outside resources for help, etc.)
2) The expectation that debates are intended to be productive for the community, with some guidance on how to keep them that way and how to recognize when they are sliding into personal conflict.
3) The expectation that personal conflicts or debates that pass beyond the boundaries of community usefulness will be taken into private conversation and resolved between individuals, and the agreement that when asked to do so, individuals will "cease fire" until the debate can be regrounded in a productive way, or moved into a private space so that only those parties interested in continuing it will be involved.
4) A clear outline of what happens if #3 isn't possible, for whatever reason. This usually involves having a clearly defined mediator who will work with the individuals in private dialogue.
5) A clear outline of the process that will occur if #4 fails. This usually goes to an administrative review board that has to make hard decisions according to policy - investigating complaints to make sure policy is followed, issuing warnings (how many? how long in effect?), and when absolutely necessary, expelling members who cannot or will not correct their behavior. The rights and responsibilities of members and admins in this part of the process need to be clearly identified as well, though that's usually in the officer roles description.

My experience has been that most of the time, strong community agreement on the responsibility of people to settle their own disputes in private rather than turning it into order-wide drama will keep it from growing past the point of #3. It does mean that, to be effective, there has to be an organizational culture of both trust (especially in making sure that there is no hidden bullying or harassment being tolerated, and that those in positions of power have clear accountability for their decisions) and self-reliance (members' willingness to review their own behaviors and keep them in line with the code.)

As a warning, people with personality disorders or severe dysfunctions will try to turn every step of the process into fuel for the issues driving them, so it's critical that the policies be transparent and fairly and firmly enforced. Most of us are not trained therapists, true - but that also means that we're not trained to diagnose real illness, and often make subjective determinations of what constitutes "having ones stuff together" based on our own comfort level or perceptions of where we're at. Having a clear outline of what kind of self-sufficiency is expected of members, as well as the level of support that the community is prepared to give (and what is beyond that ability) is very important for people to see when they are coming through the door. (Some churches I known actually have a handout on that in their visitor information.)

As a final note - any real path of Initiation is incredibly difficult, is going to bring you INTO mental, emotional and spiritual disruption, and ultimately, does not end in a "happy" place. You're going to end up with expanded consciousness of how vast human potential is, and heightened senses that lets you see day in and day out how far we are from that ideal. A community that encourages and supports people on that path has to be prepared to deal with the rocky territory - otherwise, it is just better off being a fan club or a social group for enthusiasts. It's extremely hard and frequently time and energy draining work for the admins/clergy, and all members need to be committed to conserving energy and minimizing burnout if we're going to get there together.

I salute you all and am thankful for all the work I've seen here, and regardless of whatever the future holds, wish you all success in your journeys and work. I hope this helps in the discussion.

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 16:47 by Manami.
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23 Dec 2017 17:04 - 23 Dec 2017 17:04 #309457 by Zenchi

As a warning, people with personality disorders or severe dysfunctions will try to turn every step of the process into fuel for the issues driving them, so it's critical that the policies be transparent and fairly and firmly enforced. Most of us are not trained therapists, true - but that also means that we're not trained to diagnose real illness, and often make subjective determinations of what constitutes "having ones stuff together" based on our own comfort level or perceptions of where we're at. Having a clear outline of what kind of self-sufficiency is expected of members, as well as the level of support that the community is prepared to give (and what is beyond that ability) is very important for people to see when they are coming through the door. (Some churches I known actually have a handout on that in their visitor information.)

As a final note - any real path of Initiation is incredibly difficult, is going to bring you INTO mental, emotional and spiritual disruption, and ultimately, does not end in a "happy" place. You're going to end up with expanded consciousness of how vast human potential is, and heightened senses that lets you see day in and day out how far we are from that ideal. A community that encourages and supports people on that path has to be prepared to deal with the rocky territory - otherwise, it is just better off being a fan club or a social group for enthusiasts. It's extremely hard and frequently time and energy draining work for the admins/clergy, and all members need to be committed to conserving energy and minimizing burnout if we're going to get there together.


Thank you Manami, you've pointed out something we are seriously lacking and need to address. There needs to be some form of document written up (would imagine the clergy handling this one) that is essentially handed out to everyone that addresses this problem upfront, and is perhaps even referenced in some form or another in the IP possibly in the form of a lesson to ensure the least amount of confusion as possible and is congruent with keeping everyone on the same page going forward..

My Word is my Honor, and my Honor is my Life ~ Sturm Brightblade
Passion, yet Serenity
Knighted Apprentice Arisaig
TM- RyuJin
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 17:04 by Zenchi.
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23 Dec 2017 17:10 #309458 by Rosalyn J
Manami,

Thank you. I have favorited your post . Its quite wonderful and something I'd like to come back to
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23 Dec 2017 17:32 #309460 by Atticus

Manami wrote: As for conflict areas, my previous affiliation used a very clear guideline on how conflicts were to be handled and the expectations we had for members' behavior (a Pax Templi, or "Peace of the Temple" code). In looking over the FAQ, I don't see a "How to handle conflicts" section (and if I missed it while specifically looking for it, it's buried too deep.) I did see the general rules (RESPECT, language, etc.), but so far nothing that covers the primary problem I've seen in the forums: the tendency for a personal dispute to be made into a community discussion by dragging in supporters or being brought into unrelated threads. Once that contagion gets going, and/or personality feuds become part of the culture, it's very hard to manage and also makes it a confusing and unwelcoming place for new people.

A clear Peace code should outline:


You know we're gonna draft you to help us draft this now, right? :D
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23 Dec 2017 17:35 #309461 by JLSpinner
I think this is something we should start work on within the next couple of weeks.
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23 Dec 2017 17:51 - 23 Dec 2017 18:16 #309462 by MadHatter
I think one of the biggest issues here and with the Jedi community, in general, is a failure to apply Halons razor, it loosely states that one should never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to ignorance. Or in this case, you can substitute tiredness, lack of tone, or any number of things. We tend to assume the worst instead of clarifying meaning. By we I mean the collective we. I am just as guilty of it as anyone.

From there we tend to not let go of bad views of people or events. We fail to try to understand the reasons things might happen. We hold on to our own truths from our own point of view and forget to look at the other persons. That goes for those who do the upsetting and those who get upset. Both sides need to try to see the other point of view.

Finally, we all forget to apply the basics and step back when we need them most. A good example was my wording to Nami when I was tired and frustrated with other stuff. I was shorter then I needed to be, said something that did not need to be said so I had to eat crow over that and apologize for the wording publicly. We all need to take responsibility for our half of things and be mindful of our reactions. That goes not just for here but for Jedi as a whole.

Oh and I like the concept you put forward Manami. I hope to see you stick around here a long time. That was some quality advice and something we need more of. Which I think points to another issue. Too much saying this or that is wrong and not enough offering suggestions on how to fix it. Even if we are not always going to get what we want problem-solving like Manami did is more productive then just pointing out flaws.

Knight of the Order
Training Master: Jestor
Apprentices: Lama Su, Leah
Just a pop culture Jedi doing what I can
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 18:16 by MadHatter.
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23 Dec 2017 18:44 #309467 by Atticus

Avalonslight wrote: 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.


I completely agree. But as I posted just a few days ago, we don't see everything. I read journals and opens and keep half an eye on the wall, and when I see something I reach out. But i can't spend much time in chat. So i rely on others to point me to signs of crisis that i might be missing.

Bottom line: If you see something that indicates a member or guest could use clerical outreach, tell us. Tell me, tell Carlos, tell any member of the clergy that you see. The worst that could happen is ill reply that I am on it and applaud you for looking out for your fellows.
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23 Dec 2017 18:52 - 23 Dec 2017 18:53 #309469 by Manami
Atticus,

LOL - if nothing else, I can dig out some of the old ones we've used and some good examples to help with the process.

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
Last edit: 23 Dec 2017 18:53 by Manami.
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23 Dec 2017 18:54 #309470 by Atticus

Manami wrote: Atticus,

LOL - if nothing else, I can dig out some of the old ones we've used and some good examples to help with the process.


Heh, that's the gist of the pm I just sent ya. Love the way the Force works. :)

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