The human world seems torn and shattered. It is a world where individuals with differing belief systems, conflicted political ideologies, disparate religious ideals and ethnicities are literary at each other’s throats. Among those individuals and groups that hold on to their particular worldview with an uncompromising passion, life becomes simpler, less confusing but inherently more deadly.
What has been lost is the willingness to have real conversations with one another and especially with those with whom we differ. I am not referring here to idle gossip or banter, for that is in plentiful supply. I am referring to that form of communication where those involved are physically present to one another – this necessarily excludes texting and other forms of telecommunications – and talk about those issues that are of importance and significance.
For me the transformative power of language resides in the willingness to reveal oneself to others and in so doing open up the possibility of really learning about them and ultimately freeing oneself of self-deluding preconceptions. There is risk involved in this kind of sharing, but the alternative is loneliness – a state of mind that human beings are not well suited for.
Participating in this kind of communication requires honesty, humility and trust; it has within it the inescapable elements of surprise and discovery. The nature of this interaction necessarily reveals the true complexity of the human experience and naturally undermines bigoted and narrow conceptions we may have of others. It is, of course, not without its dangers, for the truth can be disturbing. However, living in ignorance in no solution at all.
Personal and communal growth is greatly enhanced within an environment where a free exchange of ideas is actively encouraged.