Monday, May 7, 2012

You are...Team Ambiguity!

Back when I attended twelve step meetings, the wisdom that was imparted to me, among other things, was this:

"K.I.S.S., or keep it simple, stupid."

This was very good advice for a teenager who had only recently completely burned her thyroid out with an eating disorder. My biggest superpower at that time was that I could turn absolutely anything into a complete disaster using only my brain and my mouth. Later, though, I had to reject it. Somehow I have managed to remain clean and sober anyway, for over nineteen years, and have never relapsed into bulimia or committed homicide. My motto now is something more like:

"Keep the complexity and you won't be stupid."

In keeping with the spirit of that adage, I am going to invite you to do something interesting and, at the same time, I am going to give you a stupid name. This is how superheroes are created. (Later, I will send you all capes and tights.) You are now Team Ambiguity.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to examine a conversation, think about what both sides are saying and then figure out why this conversation is going nowhere. There is a dead body in the living room and both parties are using its bloody head to rest their drinks on. The argument is about whether the wine the debaters are drinking is really white or red. Your task is to point to the body and, if possible, tell us why it is there.

Please don't worry. This is not another occasion to have one of those awful discussions that take place in the comments of controversial blog posts or major media articles. I am proposing a world where all of those commenters thought before speaking, spoke respectfully and allowed themselves to be changed by what others shared, because everyone, whether agreeing or not, had shared from their hearts. I want this world, and so I think that we have to practice it some place. Here are the rules:

  1. Please do not rely solely on the pacifying statement that people just disagree. This is true but obvious. What is interesting is: why? And do these people feel listened to? I don't necessarily mean us; I mean whatever parties are at issue in our discussion.

  2. You have to be respectful of one another and of the opinions or thoughts being discussed, even if you think they are are turkey twaddle. Team Ambiguity is characterized by its ability to step back and consider that we may be wrong. That means the turkey twaddle may be right. 

  3. Please don't hide because you think everyone else is smarter or more articulate than you, or because no one has said yet what you were going to say and you are waiting for them to, so you can say "Yeah, what SHE said!". You are the smartest damn person on the whole blog. We want your comment because yours is the essential comment.

  4. Please realize it's not a fight. Discourse is illuminating. It is what makes people smarter. If we are all following Rule#2, there isn't any fighting. We are just responding with our honest experiences and thoughts and stories. One person adds celery, another adds carrot and soon we have a rich soup of differing flavors.

Tomorrow, I am going to write a few brief thoughts on this article on the nature of modern motherhood and ask you to add any of yours. You don't need to be a mother to participate because there are larger questions at play: women's and men's respective roles in society, whether or not you identify with feminist theory (yikes!), children and what role we each think they should have in our lives, judgement (when do we have the right to judge another person's actions–don't answer so quick!), and how we should discuss our differences of opinion.

I recommend you read a page of the comments as well as the main article to get a sense of the conversation. Then, tomorrow, get ready to tell me:

"What's the body in this living room?"


  1. Ooh! I'm so excited! Check your email. This is going to be so much fun. Also, I have watched Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" umpteen zillion times, so I am very well versed on how to attend a cocktail party with a dead body in the living room.

  2. Holy Smokes. I might need to clear my calendar!!

  3. Well damn, I already went and commented there without reading the directions here first. Maybe I'll add something more later after doing my homework.

  4. LOVE this. And so grateful you added rule # 3.....

  5. I am really excited about this!

  6. This picture reminds me of this old Armenian saying which literally translated is "Always extend your leg relative to the size of your blanket", meaning, stay within your resources. I accept your mission but I'm afraid you will occasionally see my feet poking from under the cover.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License