Conversation is Dying

“Too often in today’s world, groups speak to themselves, not to one another: Jews to Jews, Christians to fellow Christians, Muslims to Muslims, business leaders, economists and global protesters to their respective constituencies. The proliferation of channels of communication – e-mail, chat-groups, the Internet, online journals, and the thousands of cable and satellite television channels – mean that we no longer broadcast. We narrowcast. Gone are the days where people of different views were forced to share an arena and thus meet and reason with their opponents. Today, we can target those who agree with us and screen out the voices of dissent. Those who wish to make their views known, do so by ways that catch the attention of the news – usually by some form of violence or protest, an event that can be captured by a dramatic image, a soundbite, and scenes of confrontation. Television news especially, with its short attention span, is no substitute for rational debate and serious engagement with contrary views. Conversation, the heart-beat of democratic politics, is dying and with it our chances of civic, let alone global, peace.”

The Dignity of Difference, Prologue, p. 2