Welcome to the 5th post of Journey in Dialog. Dialog advocates include seminal thinkers like quantum physicist David Bohm. He concluded that quantum mechanics fell short of providing a description of “ultimate reality.” He said that science deals with the explicit order, but there is an ontological reality that he called the implicit order that must include three dimensions: the individual, the social, and the cosmic or religious. He invested heavily in dialog groups that he thought could transform society; however, he died before he saw this goal materialize.
Bohm, a colleague of Albert Einstein, invited fellow big-thinkers to gather in a “free space” for something new to happen. He said that dialog occurs when we become open to the flow of a larger intelligence in which we are able to discover the wholeness and interrelatedness of the world.
Bohm found it frustrating and often painful to win support for this non-standard form of communication. David Peat wrote Bohm’s biography. I was sad when I finished reading that biography because Bohm encountered many barriers to his ideas and efforts regarding dialog.
Joseph Jaworski met Bohm and found in him a kindred spirit. He reported Bohm’s view, “We are all connected and operate within living fields of thought and perception. Humans possess significant tacit knowledge – we know more than we can say. The question to be resolved: How to remove the blocks and tap into that knowledge in order to create the kind of future we all want?”
Pollster Daniel Yankelovich[i] described an increasing depersonalization in our culture in which we relate more often as objects than as persons. This leads to transactions that border on incivility. (He died some time ago, but if he was still living, I think he might say, “I warned you.”)
I believe that a certain kind of dialogue holds the key to creating greater cohesiveness among groups of Americans increasingly separated by differences in values, interests, status, politics, professional backgrounds, ethnicity, language, and convictions.
Americans are hungry for an enhanced quality of life, for deeper community, for endowing our communal life with spiritual significance. At the risk of overstating the case, I believe that greater mastery of dialogue will advance our civility – and our civilization a giant step forward. Dialogue has the magic to help us do it.
So, where have we seen demonstrations of dialog?
- In Washington?
- Where we live?
- In church?
- In our families?
Can we hope that dialog will gain a foothold in our society? What do you think?
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 F. David Peat, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm
 Joseph Jaworski, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership
 Daniel Yankelovich, The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict Into Cooperation
Yes, we can hope, but what do we do while we are hoping? This is deeply provocative thinking and presents a truth that not all can hear, interpret and/or understand. What is the path for one’s level of understanding to grow to a greater appreciation of what is here expressed? What language should be used to improve one’s understanding?
Thanks for your comments and questions. I agree that we must back up our hope with action. There continue to be advocates but the message is hidden by all the countervalling messages enhanced by most of the media. It will take substantial and sustaining initiatives to provide alternative options to the public.