30: ANOTHER FRIEND
Welcome to the 30th post in our Journey in Dialog. In the two previous posts as well as in this post, I share what four friends have told me about our dialogical relationships.
CAROLE is a university professor and the author of numerous publications in her field. When I read some of her publications, I learned new things. This experience of discovery prompted exchanges in which both of us began to see some things from new perspectives.
Carole shared with me that in reviewing articles written by a few of her students for a school publication, she used the opportunity to engage these students in dialog. I was reminded of Jane Vella, who in her book, Learning To Listen, Learning To Teach – The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults, pointed to what she called “quantum education.”
I asked Carole if she felt we had experienced dialog in our relationship. Here is her response.
“Irving and I met in August 2017 after two different family friends from my father’s home town suggested, independently one from the other, that I reach out to him. So I did.
“In our first conversations, I learned all about how Irving had worked closely with my father’s childhood friend, whom I also knew and loved growing up. How satisfying it was to picture this family friend anew from Irving’s perspective!
“Hearing Irving’s stories, which were often quite funny, was like a window opening up on someone who felt like part of my family, and someone who was deeply connected to my father. Irving’s stories expanded my perspective on my father, his boyhood friend, and the generation in which they grew up.
“Irving has shared stories about any number of consultation jobs he was asked to take on where the parties involved were attempting to achieve a goal or rectify a problem, and from what he reported, you could never imagine a solution, so heated were the disagreements.
“These stories stretched my capacity to live with the discomfort of disagreement and see it as part of a process. I admire and appreciate Irving’s attitude of hanging in there in the midst of conflict, as well as his understanding that heated arguments may very well be an opening outward to a genuine exchange of ideas.
“Through listening to one another, the parties involved might break through to something bigger than themselves.
“Irving’s commitment to digging deeper and seeing things through to a meaningful communication seems to have a spiritual quality to me, one that is sorely needed in our times.
“Irving and I may be opposites in terms of politics (I don’t know!), but I agree with him that our world has become dangerously polarized, with people gravitating mostly to others that are like minded. I believe the Internet exacerbates this problem and is at heart, potentially, quite un-democratic.
“I agree with political philosopher Cass Sunstein who feels that for a democracy to remain robust, we need constantly to bump into people with colliding perspectives and points of view. Being open to meeting someone different from yourself and taking part in a collision of ideas is what is dear to me in being human, and I’ve found a kindred soul in Irving. I feel blessed.”
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