Monday, May 26, 2008

On Talking with Rogues

Last Saturday on About Face, our guest was Dr. Joseph Fahey, Director of the Peace Studies Program at Manhattan College. Among his many observations about relations among nations was the importance of communication. "Communication is the first stage of peace....Refusal to communicate is the first stage of war," he writes. During our conversation, he restated the importance of communication.

In our so-called national debate (sound bites, actually) about meeting with adversaries, we forget that that communication can take a variety of forms, including citizen initiatives such as athletic competitions, intellectual exchange and artistic celebrations. Of course, our government can severely limit even this discourse but citizens can always push the bounds and make as much contact with The Other as possible through journals, blogs and other means short of actual travel. These actions may not create the opportunities that could result from a change in national policy, but they are first steps.

Imagine, then, if a President of the United States were to seriously open communication with adversaries. The forum need not be some formal occasion, simply the exchange of ideas. That is the first big step. Communication with adversaries does not "reward their hostile [or irresponsible or whatever] behavior". Communication is part of learning to live in in peace.

Hell, even Richard Nixon started talking to the Chinese.



Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

if you are only going to talk with those who already agree with you why open your mouth?

if you demand that those who do disagree with you accept all of your demands before talking, what's to talk about? the menu?

10:03 AM  

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