As I reflect on the small and larger concepts explored in our course this semester, I notice how interlinked the field of international communication is, and how it walks hand in hand, with the roots of social change. At the risk of sounding slightly hackneyed, I have come to reaffirm my conviction that the route to any type of social change, lies in dialogue.
But what is the real meaning of ‘dialogue’ and what should its purpose actually be?
The ancient Greeks believed that “individuals are not intelligent on their own, that it’s only by reasoning together that they are able to uncover the truth for themselves. The Greeks understood that if two or more people are unsure about a question, they can accomplish something together they can’t do on their own. By questioning and probing each other, carefully dissecting and analyzing ideas, finding the inconsistencies, never attacking or insulting but always searching for what they can accept between them, they can gradually attain deeper understanding and insight.”*
In our increasingly interlocked and uncertain world, in which the traditional notion of authority structures are falling, and we are forced into confrontations with peoples from opposing cultural traditions and worldviews, we find ourselves in desperate need to be able to overcome our differences, find some common ground, build meaning and purpose, and set directions together. With all of our new communication media forms like the internet and mobile technology, we find ourselves more frequently talking at each other. But the way to solve our problems, is to tap into our ‘higher social intelligence’ as the late physicist David Bohm called it; to think together as groups, as teams, as committees, as communities, and as citizens.
It’s no longer enough to be clever on our own. “Our pressing problems today require that we be smart together, that we harness our best collective thinking and put it to work in the world.”*