Terms & Conditions

My writings are intended for readers who will be open minded and who may engage in civil discourse and debate.   For all others – ranters, chanters, haters, eye-rollers – I respectfully request that you either participate civilly or move along.

Unless attributed, the content I post is my own.  That said, I can not possibly know all of the material on a particular subject, so it is entirely possible that ideas that occur to me may have been articulated by others previously.  I find it very satisfying to reproduce ideas unknowingly – it is a form of confirmation.  If I become aware of such an antecedent, I will add a notation.  I request attribution for original ideas or quotes along with a link to a blog article and a reference to my twitter id @J_Mark_Morris.

I will do my best to observe the following teachings:

When Zen teachers in the United States began to deeply explore the role of speech in the systems we inhabit, we realized how often disrespect and disparagement are found in family structures, the workplace, and our religious communities. We began to use the Five Gatekeepers of Speech, questions sourced in the Buddha’s teachings, as a tool for appropriate communication. Practicing them means that before we [communicate], we consider:

1. Is it true?
2. Is it kind?
3. Is it beneficial?
4. Is it necessary?
5. Is it the right time?

These questions are a way of looking deeply into whether what we want to say is necessary at this time and whether it will really serve. Is this the moment when our words are needed to turn a situation around for the better? Or might our feedback be received as bullying, disrespectful, or disempowering?

Yet when answering these questions, I have had to remember an important element of Right Speech that Thích Nhất Hạnh emphasized over the years. In cases of injustice, of disrespect, of harm, of abuse, of violence, it’s our responsibility to call out the harm in the name of compassion. Nhất Hạnh interprets the Buddhist precept of Right Speech with these words: “Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that can cause division or hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things that you are not sure of. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice even when doing so may threaten your own safety.”

Right Speech is courageous speech. Speech that is compassionate and fearless is grounded in authentic respect.”

Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax
Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

I reserve the right to revise my thinking or change my mind. New facts, thoughts, analysis, and persuasive arguments may cause me to rethink an opinion or position.   I will not be held to a standard of being right the first time or even the Nth time.  I am always learning. Note that when I make modifications to a blog post, I don’t change the original date of the post, so in that sense it is like a wiki, showing the latest and most current version.  However, unlike a wiki, there is no history or change log.

I am a creative problem solver.  For any interesting issue, I listen to the constituencies and attempt to understand their point of view.  My virtue signal: I look for principled solutions that maximize well-being and minimize suffering.  For each constituency that is engaging in civilized discourse and debate,  I will do my best to help find and advocate solutions that improve the well being of that constituency, but not at the expense of another group.  There are always going to be very difficult scenarios, corner cases, and exceptions – they may be unsolvable, involve tradeoffs, or require unique approaches.

J Mark Morris

Talks & speeches:  Contact me.