Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goodwill and dialogue

I found Nirupama Subramanian's parting piece on Pakistan poignant. I especially found this paragraph very relevant for the way we tend to discuss issues facing us within our own country:

But at the end of the day, the goodwill I experienced in my daily interactions with ordinary Pakistanis, even during the most heated debates, was overwhelming and more powerful than anything else. Despite the heavy hand of the state in every sphere of life, I found people who were willing to set aside long internalised stereotypes and prejudices about Indians and Hindus to try and understand me and my point of view, and they accepted with good faith that I was trying to do the same. We may not have entirely convinced each other every time but we managed to build little bridges of our own and find our own modus vivendi.

How often, we (I mean the elite, the so-called opinion-makers) are willing to set aside our prejudices regarding one another, and try to understand the other point of view, despite known disagreements? Should disagreements dissuade us from publicly discussing the merits or otherwise of those disagreements? Is the purpose of the discussion not served, if the other person is not entirely convinced about the merits of an argument? This is something which we need to learn from our friends in Pakistan.
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