Friday, June 15, 2007

"Emotions Don't Solve Problems"

Clearly a chord was struck yesterday. A chord that resonated for 51 comments: A record on our blog. What I was so amazed with was the passion and enthusiasm exhibited by the postings. What was also interesting was how split down the middle posters were. When one comment would go up arguing one side, it would be followed almost immediately by the opposing view.

One of the more prominent comments that was made I feel needs a little more discussion. "I think the message from one side of this debate was the fact that it is human nature to become emotional, but what next? Emotions don't solve problems, even though they may spark interest and hope for change. I think we look toward EPIC and the rest of the NGO community to relay these stories in a way that is not bias and overwrought - Anonymous."

That is both a valid concern and an unfair implication. Ignoring for a minute the rest of the NGO community, I don't think it's reasonable to imply that EPIC only deals with emotions when discussing these issues, neglecting solution-based ideas. Our mission here at EPIC is to bring you the stories and interviews that you won't find anywhere else, and yes, they are often emotional. But the reason you won't find them anywhere else is because we go straight to the source. We feel the most important voices are those of Iraqis and those who work in the country. They know what's going on because they live it. They are the solution.

We are extremely happy that this blog has received so much attention and encouraged so much action (over 600 letters and counting!), but I want to make it clear that we are not an emotion-focused institution, we are a solutions-focused one. I hope there is as much debate on the next series of posts because while debates are inherently guided by emotion, when an exchange of ideas ensues, real solutions emerge.


Anonymous said...

I also enjoyed the debate that took place yesterday, but I don't think my point was understood (I am the person who wrote the comment you are referring to). I want to be clear that I understand the work Epic is trying to accomplish. I was not commenting on the organization, but the voice that was used yesterday in the post. Although the comment was later changed, I think it is imperative for EPIC staff to be careful with wording so that these blogs don't loose creditability. It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion created by the chaos happening to millions of Iraqis but I don't think it's acceptable for peacebuilders to play the blame game. It's not a rational way of dealing with the problems at hand, and on top of that it's not pc. I myself know many Iraqis who have been effected by decades of war; who have been torn away from their families; who can't return to their country. These people are not wasting their time putting blame on the United States in hopes of getting Americans to take responsibility and act.....they are looking for real solutions in ways that don't point fingers. Again my posts yesterday were not toward EPIC as an organization, they were to a member of EPIC who lost her cool....and who in a way got caught up in the plethora of the "us verse them" mentality, which furthers conflict rather than builds bridges toward change.

Geoff Schaefer said...

Anonymous, thank you for the clarification. I understand your point more concisely now. You are also right on us making sure we use the correct language in our posts. In our defense, I'm not so sure the phrasing of that comment was intentional, but that's not a good enough answer either.

I do appreciate you taking part in such a healthy debate though, it's great for both the future of the blog and our thinking on the matters at hand. See you in the "EPICsphere" on Monday.

mh said...

I would hate to get the debate started again but after reading the post from yesterday, I do not feel there was any loss of credibility with the way it was written. Perhaps some feeling came through but it's nice to know there's a human element here.

Anonymous said...

Geoff- thanks for understanding. I respect the work epic does and the fact that the organization doesn't take sides, other than a humanitarian one of course. That's why I was surprised by the comment.

mh- Everyone has a different opinion on how issues should be addressed. I think the comment that was made yesterday putting blame on the United States was too strong and too simplistic, as I said yesterday. It was changed and I'm sure not intentional. I just wanted to give a heads up, because it didn't sound like the epic I'm used to....the one that is the voice of the iraqi people, without getting caught-up in the politics or blame game. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Let me just say that whatever is going on here, yesterday, for the first time, I was inspired to do something.

lurker said...

There's really more that needs to be said but I will wait for another day. In the meantime, thank you for a place to express my thoughts on the Iraq situation.

Geoff Schaefer said...

Lurker - That's what we're trying to do with the blog. We want it to be the number 1 blog site on Iraq - the
EPICsphere. I would enoucrage you to finish your thoughts on Monday though, giving you said there is a lot more to talk about. I say bring it on, let's keep this going.

Anonymous - Glad we're on the same page now. I think that we should take it as an error in judgement (unintentional mind you) and further along other parts of the debate. And don't worry, we're still the EPIC you know and love.

P.S. Happy Father's Day (Sunday) everyone. Have a fantastic weekend.

Emily Stivers said...

I have to defend myself one more time. My language was based on an excellent, thoughtful Washington Post editorial which I have since linked to the language in question. Erik referred me to this article himself, and we all agree with the sentiments it expresses.

No one here denies that Iraqis have endured decades of war, and many refugees existed prior to the U.S. invasion. But since 2003, the numbers of refugees and IDPs have sky-rocketed, and U.S. actions are at least in part to blame.

True, we don't focus on who is to blame at EPIC, and indeed that was not the focus of my entry. But I still believe it is our responsibility as Americans to do more for Iraqi refugees and IDPs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Emily, it is America’s responsibility to shoulder the burden of this costly war and its aftermath. It would be wonderful if other nations stepped up their efforts but American must be the leader in this effort.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Emily that the focud of the debate is not who is to blame but what we can do now to fix it. Sometimes we are too quick to blame someone else because it is easier than thinking of ways to solve the problem ourselves. But, here's a hint...educate yourselves. As much as possible, give yourself the knowdledge to openly and constructively debate the situation. The more you know, the more constructive your efforts will be and the more seriously you will be taken.

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