05 July 2011

The Illusion of Understanding

There seems to be this notion in matters of diplomacy and relationships that if only two parties understood each other, peace would ensue. The apparent assumption is that engaging in real dialogue with better communication will result in a healthier, stronger relationship.

That, it seems to me, presumes that the two parties really will respect what they come to understand. If the husband likes spending money on every new gadget and could care less about saving, his wife likely won't feel more loving once she better understands this about him. If the Palestinians really do think that you as a people should not exist, better communication will do little to bring peace.

The tough nut always seems to be the same. Without a context of compassion and acceptance, understanding does little to repair a relationship. And while you may easily accept the very different philosophy of someone across town or in another country, it is tougher to accept that your neighbor or lover has a different view of the world than you do. Better communication that lets you understand such differences might just alarm you. If you don't have compassion enough to be ready to accept whoever they are, you aren't ready for real communication. And they probably won't give it to you.

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