An interesting, thing is going on today all around the world.
The other day, I was at a dinner with several interesting people—experts in science, the Middle East, social sciences, criminal justice, and children’s issues. Though they were mainly conversing about the need to get more young people to understand the sciences and think scientifically, each expert was pretty much singing independently—partly because their average age was about 88 and almost everyone was more than a bit deaf. The result was independent strands of thoughts trying to weave themselves into a symphony of understanding.
It occurred to me in the next days that something similar happens on a larger global and national scale. Our political situation (both in the United States and the world as a whole) seems to be an ever rising crescendo of insanity and crisis. Unlike dinner table strands of thought, however, I suspect that the current state of conversations around the world is not so much a result of world leaders being unable to hear, but of their being unable to listen.
Consider Korea, Syria, France, Russia, the Mexican border, the US tax system, global warming, and US healthcare. All are important and complicated. All require a lot of hard thinking and serious consideration.
Often today it seems that the really serious issues are no longer receiving the disciplined thinking that they sorely need and deserve.
What can be done about that?
I have an idea.
Dinner party conversation does not need to reach a conclusion. It is sufficient that the participants go home better informed and a bit wiser.
Perhaps the leaders around the world could agree to devote sufficient time in public (on TV) to air and analyze each relevant issue at a single time in group settings that could shine light on that issue for them and the publics they serve.
That way, each issue might become better illuminated and all the parties might go away better informed—to the extent that they were capable of listening and taking on board new information.
Musical symphonies can be magical experiences.
And well informed and balanced conversations at a dinner table, or even on nightly news, can leave many people better off for the experience.
But when there is too much dissonance and if the various sounds and voices are not really heard, the result can be both meaningless and even counterproductive.
People who truly “talk together”, both HEARING and LISTENING, walk into better futures together.