Today I launch a new venture: a blog devoted to drawing readers’ attention to the underlying structural elements that affect peace and justice. In this information-rich world in which we currently live, what is often missing in the media and debates is an honest discussion about such elements — issues often hidden from the public square because they complicate matters. We don’t like complications; we like easy answers. As a society, we’ve grown uncomfortable with being uncomfortable and not having a simple solution. Well, there are no easy answers. The decisions we make, no matter how small, can have a devastating effect (read Ray Bradbury’s wonderful short story, “A Sound of Thunder”, for a powerful depiction of such an effect).
Part of the problem is that our world today is ‘dichotomized’: us versus them, blue versus gray, right versus left. We’re all familiar with such dichotomies. I’m sure we’ve all scrolled down the news feed of recent Facebook status updates or Twitter tweets to see the variance of sayings, ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, often in opposition to the one right above it. Or, we’ve read the countless ‘pro-’ this, ‘anti-’ that bumper stickers.
The missing factor: a discussion.
So, as I celebrate my birthday this week, I have one wish: to have those in opposition come together and discuss the things that we like in the world, the things we dislike, our core beliefs and why we believe them. The idea is not to persuade someone to change their beliefs to mine or to any other person’s. Rather, the grand scheme is simply to talk; to engage in that magical world of conversation, listening to and learning from each other.
This may seem to be a strange request for a birthday or for any day. But my reason is simple: as the tenor in this country and the world becomes more ‘us vs. them’, through dialogue we begin to see that ‘us’ is really not that different from ‘them’. Yet, we’re afraid because we don’t want to seem to give in to the other side, or compromise our beliefs. Fear keeps us apart.
Hopefully, this blog will be a mechanism that will bring diverse people together; maybe not physically or even virtually via comments, but perhaps in a way that dispels fear of the other and opens ourselves up to learning and to engaging.
I do not purport that I have all (or any) answers, but it’s OK to remain in the questions. So join me in the discussions, a journey that I hope will lead toward a more just and peaceful world.