If you look at the materials that have the highest number of views and texts that gain the most popularity, it is hard to resist the impression that we are actually not that different from people living in ancient times. Also in the 21st century we need Games, as Romans did. The best videos are those in which someone walked out of the television studio, cried publicly, or insulted an opponent. Is dialogue still possible?
Perhaps one of the problems that makes conversation difficult or impossible is an overabundance of stimuli combined with a lack of time. We read only the headlines, which are often meant to shock us instead of delving into the content of the article, and as a result it is too easy to judge and too difficult to try to understand. Dialogue by its very nature implies an exchange of ideas and views, rather than shutting ourselves away in information bubbles of people who think, vote, and believe like we do.
Universities, ambitious press and politics (understood as the art of governing) should be a space for such a deep exchange of ideas. In recent years, however, these places have increasingly lacked not only dialogue but also properly understood freedom of speech. Beginning with good intentions and the desire to be nice, it is easy to abandon the desire to talk about serious topics – in social contacts limit oneself to small talks, and in public spaces to create a list of forbidden words, dangerous books and “personas non grata”. In recent days, Amazon removed the book “When Harry became Sally” by Ryan Anderson from its platform, in February British midwives were informed that they should use the term chestfeeding instead of breastfeeding, and in universities, people who could in any way violate the prevailing worldview are increasingly banned from speaking.
Is dialogue still possible? Does anyone care about it?
Among my friends I have people with different views. I value our discussions, also when we disagree, because they help me constantly verify my beliefs, sometimes also find weaknesses in them and verify them. I don’t have to be ashamed of not being infallible. Our relationship doesn’t break down because of these differences and I think it would be a loss to avoid them in conversation, to pretend they don’t exist. The basis of dialogue is for us to see that at the most basic level we are similar, that is, we have similar desires ingrained in our hearts-the desire for happiness, for justice, for goodness, for beauty.
For me as a person of faith, these are God-given. I understand that others don’t see it that way, but just recognizing these desires as existing allows me to see in my disputant someone with whom I have more in common than I do apart. Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and probably not everyone exhibits similarly free will.
Does being open to dialogue mean that truth doesn’t matter to me? On the contrary. The truth is so important to me that I enter a dialogue precisely in order to be able to find it also in my opponent’s views, if it is possible.