Shut the F#&$ Up or Choose Love

Posted by   Annette on    March 30, 2014

eiger.jpgIt has been a dark few months, punctuated by inky and absolute blackness, in the close-knit community of BASE jumping.

A common response to the horror of such tragedies in our context -- tragedies to which we are all wholly lain open -- is to use criticism, in public and private forums, to distance ourselves from the decisions we imagine were made. The phenomenon is as vicious as it is predictable. And it's not just fatalities, either: it's close calls. Injuries. Political missteps.

The result is as virulent as it is useless to all parties, and only serves to divide us. Us: the only people on Earth who understand. Us: the only people who can truly, fully come to each others' aid. Us: the strange, self-exiled citizens of the Pointy End.

I exhort that we shut the fuck up -- or choose love.

I am not saying that there is never discussion to be done. There is. When there is, let's choose to do it only for the betterment of the sports we live and breathe, not for false security. Not for our weak, wild selves. Not for our grasping desire to live elite in our tiny ecosystem of athletes. Not for our precious objects (of which there are so very many). Not for our sponsors' interests.

When we go for blood to suit our individual interests, the action only dismantles -- in small ways and in large -- our beloved community.

This is never ever ever untrue, and it is never ever ever appropriate to do so, no matter what the reason. 

When there is discussion to be done, it must be done from a place of love and mutual respect.

Daniel C. Dennett, one of the world's great thinkers (who himself has been through more trial than most of us ever will), wrote an incredible book in 2013: Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. A profoundly worthwhile read for many reasons, the book includes this beautiful how-to regarding the crafting and curation of a productive discussion:


You should attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."

You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.


We will not stop pursuing our lambent fever-dream of flight. We will not stop dancing along our spider-silk over the stygian darkness. We will not stop asking the sky to hold us; to play us like whirling marionettes over a landscape that uniquely breathes for and opens to us.

But we must stop pretending that we are so different from each other.

Changing our conversation can help.