Last night I had a chance to hear a lecture hosted by our regional World Affairs Council. The speaker was an articulate member of the international diplomatic core who walked us through the complex issues of:
Rhetoric and reality—the difference between what is said and done.
Interests vs values—the tendency to act in the interpretation of our own immediate interests at the expense of our own values, and the interests of others.
Diplomacy vs acts of aggression— talking to find an alternative to war rather than engaging in mutually escalating and increasingly dangerous options.
“What’s past is prologue”— Unless we understand our past we won’t know where we are going.
Recognizing that looking back inevitably leaves us with ghosts of the past in the room of present considerations, the speaker kept emphasizing that in light of the past we must keep talking. Once we stop talking and listening, we can only make decisions based on what we don’t understand– at the expense of those we don’t care for– and our own loss.
While the diplomat’s references were political and secular, I kept thinking how much we all live in the shadows of the rhetoric and realities of conflict. Wherever we turn, personally or internationally, as families, churches, and community organizations, we so desperately need answers of the mind and heart that enable us to come to terms with our past, humanizing rather than demonizing one another, and finding ways to move forward for the good of all.