Early morning, Wednesday, November 19, the results of the GR on init system coupling will be announced. No result will make everyone happy. In fact, that morning, some of our developers, users and contributors will be really unhappy. I would be dishonest if I said I didn't hope to be happy and reassured that morning. I suspect we all hope that the project will agree with our position on this complex and emotionally intense issue and reassure us that our values are close to those of the project; reassure us that this is a place where we can safely work together. I don't know who, but I know that for some of the people I care about in the project--people whose opinion I value--that morning will bring disappointment, sadness, frustration and fear. I may well be one of those people. However, Wednesday November 19 and every day after, Debian needs to work together. Today, now, before the results are announced, we have an opportunity to extend compassion and empathy and remind ourselves of the spirit in which we'd like to work together. I'm hoping that we can all take a few minutes to gain empathy for those who disagree with us. Then I'm hoping we can use that understanding to reassure them that they are valued and respected and their concerns considered even when we end up strongly disagreeing with them or valuing different things. Towards that, I ask you to take a few minutes to consider how you will feel if the option other than further discussion that you least favor is selected by the project. Actually, for some of us, the prospect of months of further discussion of this issue itself is likely to have its own negative feelings. For the moment though, I ask that you focus on one of the other options. What do you feel? Disappointment that the project didn't value something important to you? Fear about whether Debian will meet your needs as an OS and community? Sadness? Frustration? Fear when you consider whether you'll be able to get your work done? What actions could other members of the project take to turn some of those feelings around without compromising their beliefs, changing their mind, or giving up on the values that are important to them? I'll answer this question for myself in a moment; if you cannot think of things that would help you, perhaps some of the things that would help me would also be valuable to you. If not, you could find someone you trust and value and work together to see what you could ask for to receive emotional care. It's almost certainly true that others in the project--people you have worked with over the years--will have similar feelings if their least favored option is selected. Some of those people probably disagree with you. I'd ask you to consider extending other members of the project the sort of care that will help you--the actions you were thinking about in the previous paragraph. My hope is that by doing so we can all treat each other with respect and value without compromising our positions. In many cases, it may make sense to extend that care now, to commit now to an attitude of care and respect even when we might be the ones needing that care in a couple of weeks. For myself, here are things that I'd really value in a situation where I'm feeling disappointed, sad and afraid that my values might not match the project's: * Not talking about these tradeoffs in terms of what's right and wrong, but acknowledging that different members of our project have different values. User choice isn't bad any more than combining software to reduce code size is bad. There isn't a right answer. As Russ has explained a number of times in the TC, on debian-vote and on his blog, this is about tradeoffs. I'm sure some people will be happy if the project's values are aligned with theirs. When they take that as far as saying the project made the "right decision" or rejected "bad options," they are not valuing the contributions of those who disagreed with them. * People who disagree with me taking the time to understand my position. "Hey, Sam, what you seem to be saying is this...for these reasons. Have I got it?" That is, people taking the time to make sure they understand me without trying to persuade me. I'm not asking for agreement, simply that I'm valued and my opinions are valued enough to read, understand and confirm that understanding. I feel reassured that someone took the time to consider what I had to say even if they came to a different conclusion. * When true, reassurances that we share common values even in situations where we disagree about how to balance tradeoffs. * Offers to work together/to listen to my opinions in future. "Hey, Sam, I realize the decision didn't go the way you were hoping, but I'm interested in figuring out how within the scope of what we did decide we can best address the concerns you had." I really hope that folks who value user choice will be willing to work with those who are trying to introduce improved ways of doing things regardless of what we decide. * Reassurances that I'm acting in good faith/that it's clear we're all working to build the best Debian we can even when we have different ideas of what that is. Don't be afraid to offer the sort of care that you'd like to receive in public mail. -project seems relatively quiet at the moment. Yeah, feel-good messages do take up space in the inbox. However, even if we managed to generate 1/100th the messages that this discussion has already taken reminding ourselves that we're a community, filled with heart-felt desires to respect and value each other, I think it will be worth it. Also, I understand that this issue is really important to a lot of us. I've heard implications from people on multiple sides of the issue that they are not sure they will be able to stay involved/contribute at their current level if it turns out their values and the project's values are significantly misaligned on this issue. I'm always sad when I hear that people feel the need to leave a community. Recently, I was really touched by a note about the importance of happiness. Unfortunately it was on debian-private so I cannot point to it here. I can say though I'd be even more sad to hear that someone stayed against the calling of their happiness than finding a community that is aligned with their values. Change happens. We refine our values as we grow. I for one am committed to respecting both Debian and any who choose to leave. I hope we treat each other with respect and value when our paths cross again. The free software community and the broader IT community are bigger places with room for a lot of values. If another project/community works better for you, I hope you find value in contributing there. I hope that project and Debian learn from each other, and I hope that the experience you found in Debian brings value to you in the future. Thanks for listening to me, and I hope that together we can reaffirm our commitment to our users and free software in a wonderful community.
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