Discussions Are Not Dialogues

August 5, 2014 6:26 PM

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Discussions Are Not Dialogues

I was driving my car listening to a program on NPR where Diane Rehm was hosting a discussion between an Israeli and a Palestinian expert. I didn't listen to the program from the start, so I don't know how she set it up, but at the time I tuned in, it was a shouting contest. The guests were victims of their own intense emotions and each had a hard time letting the other person finish his thoughts: they were interrupting each other, and the interrupted person would just speak louder and continue, like a passing train that is oblivious to other noises. It was impossible to understand either one, and on top Diane was trying to get some order saying "Hold on, hold on...", which didn't get much attention either. Not only where these individuals not listening to each other, but they were also blaming each other as representing whole cultures, history, leaders, parties and their initiatives. They were not responding to each other's points, but merely reacting to some words, or using them as springboards to state their own preconceived arguments.

I asked myself how will there ever be some progress towards peace if people -- thousands of miles away from the conflict zone -- cannot even listen to each other in a thoughtful way.

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