The following is published here, in response to a blog post from the well-known wroter/thinker on leadership and change, Jesse Lyn Stoner. My great appreciation to Jesse for her daily insights, and for her asking me to put my FB comment on her blog. My expanded reply and comments are below.
Jesse, thank you for asking me to post my comment originally from FB on this, to your blog. The original brief comment is below, followed by some further comments on this topic:
My FB Comment:
Yes, And. . . Is dialogue contingent on a sufficient commonality of language and thought? Are shared knowledge, understanding, and rationality fundamental criteria, without which respectful, generative dialogue can not exist?
My belief is that dialogue is indeed contingent on a minimum level of shared language, and some minimum level of shared rational thought, with the capacity to listen, learn, unlearn, and relearn. Since the Brexit vote, and now with the American campaign/election, I believe a fundamental shift has occurred in our societies. To me, it appears that a significant mass of citizens have accepted a dominant narrative counter to that of the prior status quo. In this counter-narrative, many see themselves as victims of the “system” – the prior socio-political status quo. The power of this (arguably false in my view) counter-narrative has been so strong as to make many people act contrary to the values and beliefs they have historically espoused. The result has been a tumble over the edge from the presumed stability of our status quo, into a time-space of comparative chaos. A time in which multiple new narratives are competing to make sense to a new critical mass of people. If and when that happens, we may again have a basis for generative civil discourse. In the meantime, I believe we are seeing a retreat to a tribal/guild sort of affinity clustering- people finding those of similar mind and values, with whom to associate and act.
So. . . for dialogue, my concern is that absent a sufficent basis in fact- and shared-values thought/action, respectful dialogue may not be possible. I have personally experienced this with some of my own family members. My greater concern is that new dialogue may require a shared experience of a catastrophic nature, to sufficently catalyze new sense-making.
Thanks and I look forward to your further thoughts!