I had a great conversation recently with a friend of mine,sharing ideas and points of view. One idea we talked about was environmental degradation and how our world as we know it is now on a downward slide. We are no longer in the economic expansion era of the 1950s, 60s or even 70s – where things seem to be “getting better.” Climate change, overpopulation, pollution – these warnings from the 1960s and 1970s are catching up with us. They are happening now.
What is the impact? Most of us as a species are aware, I am sure, consciously or unconsciously, that our habitat is degrading. How could we not? We may not be able to articulate this with words, but every life form has a built-in desire to survive. We are no different. We want to survive as a species. And we must, therefore, have some inkling that we are in grave, if not irreversible, danger.
From this place of pain, just like the place of pain in interpersonal conflict, we seek to blame and to understand. Blaming and understanding are intertwined: I blame you because I want to make sense of what is happening. When I blame you, I believe I know why something is wrong.
The challenge is that blame can keep us locked in one very limited viewpoint: my own and only those who agree with my own.
The times call for more viewpoints, more conversations, more dialogue, more understanding, more innovation. Not less. It breaks my heart that we are entering an age where our points of view are increasingly calcified. We need more shared spaces to converse – shared spaces to bring together traditionally “left’ and “right” points of view. These days, those with a “left” point of view read the same kinds of news sources as those with their own points of view. This is the same phenomenon on the “right.” In times past, we all read the same kind of news sources, ensuring some new ideas and stretching of perspectives.
What we need today are more places we can come together and learn from each other’s perspectives. We need each other now more than ever. My fervent wish is that we can rise above blaming our struggles and dangers on each other and come together in shared spaces for the higher purpose of elevating our common human family.
From blaming to conversing.
Where do you see those shared spaces?
“A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative. What is essential here is the presence of the spirit of dialogue, which is in short, the ability to hold many points of view in suspension, along with a primary interest in the creation of common meaning.” … David Bohm & David Peat
This article was first published in the June 2017 edition of HEN – my newsletter coming to you every full moon. Sign up to receive your free conflict tips by subscribing here.