Monday, June 04, 2012
Conversation versus Tyranny
At a time when I was welcomed to interfaith groups and active in that dialogue (both in Boston and in Los Angeles), there was a basic ground rule to which all participants agreed: we weren't there to convert other people. We gathered in a spirit of sharing information and ideas.
It's a good precept to borrow in discussing civil matters, where there may be disagreement; it is even a way to address controversial topics. Assume you're not going to resolve the problem today; that today you're going to look at something from different angles; that nobody is there to conquer. When people do change their minds or discover a solution they hadn't thought of previously, it's a decision they make themselves. And it does happen.
A community that is unable to take such an approach -- that cannot practice dialogue -- is unable to practice democracy. This will even undermine a republican state, rendering our elections and political debate senseless. The outcome will be tyranny.