That peoples can no longer carry on authentic dialogue with one another is not only the most acute symptom of the pathology of our time, it is also that which most urgently makes a demand of us.”
Martin Buber, Genuine Dialogue and the Possibilities of Peace
Jewish philosopher, religious scholar and political activist Martin Buber, called by the New York Times upon his death in 1965 “one of the great thinkers of this century,” spoke these profound words in Germany in 1953.
Clearly, the condition Buber considered our “most acute symptom” six decades ago has become even more critical in recent years.
In my country, the United States, our shared failure to engage one another in genuine dialogue has reached a level unprecedented in my 50 years as a voting citizen.
I am convinced that if we do not address and correct the shameful state of our public discourse, and soon, our democracy, at a minimum, stands in peril.
Creating authentic dialogue between and among people holding divergent views, on any subject or scale, can be incredibly challenging. We all witness this unfortunate reality virtually every day. Yet, at times we somehow manage to overcome our discomfort and successfully engage in real dialogue. Difficult? Without question. But it can be done.
A key premise of Real Talk Revolution is that genuine dialogue can not only be achieved, but that in today’s increasingly troubled world our collective embrace of dialogue has become an evolutionary necessity.
The willingness and ability to conduct authentic dialogue is the indispensable precondition for effectively addressing the complex, seemingly intractable problems we face as a nation and world. Not coincidentally, dialogue is also our most powerful tool for dealing with the misunderstandings and conflicts we experience in our personal lives. Correspondingly, it is one of our most potent tools for personal development as well.
In his 1953 address, Buber followed the words above with these:
I believe, despite all, that the peoples in this hour can enter into dialogue, into a genuine dialogue with one another.”
Real Talk Revolution is an attempt to answer Martin Buber’s call to “that which most urgently makes a demand of us.”
Martin Buber’s voice has been one of the most eloquent and robust in support of human dialogue for almost a century. His widely studied classic, I and Thou, is a guiding light in the field of dialogue. I will have more to say about Buber’s vision and insights as Real Talk Revolution develops.