From the world's political and diplomatic space to the personal and intimate, issues at all points are best resolved not through military and warlike interventions, but through effective dialogues. But we have the skill or the inclination to do it well enough?
We talk-but we don’t, actually
Dialogue is the very essence of life. It helps unfold life’s hidden mysteries. But it is sad that while we have so many means to communicate with others today- over the phone, face to face conversations, email and social network – we seem more separate and disconnected than ever. As Dalai Lama says, “We have global communication and yet confrontation is more common than dialogue”.
We speak at each other , or past each other, but seldom to each other. Dialogue is but now a monologue. The trouble is that what we think is communication today is but all crosstalk as we do not wish to listen.
According to the UN records, global divorce rate has seen an increase up to 251.8% since 1960 with 87% divorce rate in Luxembourg in spite of boasting an advanced economy and high purchasing powers.
The gap is due to the inability and disinterest to overcome differences, find common ground, purpose and set directions together. We need to be able to think together as partners, family , community and citizens. And the way to achieve that is through Dialogue. It involves deeper understanding – the process which involves listening with empathy, exploring new ideas and perspectives and bringing unexamined assumptions into the open. Dialogue helps to build relationship by reconciling the apparently irreconcilable.
They talk as well
Intraspecific and interspecific dialogue is essential even in the animal world. The mating calls which are the auditory signals produced by the males, attract the females to the breeding site.
Male crows rub the beak of the female bird and speak to her in hushed whispers, their own personal dialogue, just before mating. Birds give alarm calls when they see a predator and in many cases they even have calls specific to avian predators like a hawk or an owl. Even while interacting with humans, parrots are seen to use words meaningfully. The intraspecific interaction between humans and dolphins, or humans and canines also reflects a special bond.
At an organism level, a highly integrated dialogue exchange within neurons and astrocytes of the brain occurs during neurotransmission – which is an incredible network of dialogue and communication.
Talk it out well
Individuals are not intelligent on their own, says the Greeks. It is only by reasoning together that they are able to uncover the truth for themselves. By questioning, probing carefully, dissecting and analyzing ideas, never attacking or insulting but searching for what is accepted by majority does one attain deeper understanding and insight. This is the effective process of a dialogue.
When done well, the benefits are manifold. Long standing stereotypes can be dissolved, mistrust overcome, visions shaped and grounded, new perceptions and insights born and new levels of creativity stimulated.
Let us resolve to indulge more in effective dialogues, conducted with a spirit of openness and re- conciliation and be a part of the change.
About the authors
The article has been contributed by the following teachers from Our Lady Queen of the Mission School, Park Circus, Kolkata:
Rupa Ghosh, Mary Mishra and Annyesha Mukherjee.