Opening Up the Conversation

by Diana Morley

I'm finding that opening up a conversation to the subject of the attacks--with clients, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintences in the park every morning--has opened up some thought processes.

People often begin by repeating what they've heard around them and in the news (we must retaliate swiftly, we must put an end to terrorism, we must rid the world of ben Ladin and the like) but when I suggest the difficulty of ending terrorism with a strike of force because it would create martyrs, and inspire new followers to lead, others often back down and readily admit that it's not that simple. I point out that Afghan parents love their children too, and my friends then look down at the ground and nod, saying that they hope it would never come to THAT. But they've seen the possibility that's been hidden and had to acknowledge it.

I think that merely helping others find that thoughtful state within them and giving permission for it to come out, despite the emphasis on toughness all around them, is important. It gives strength to their inner thoughts and shifts their outward perspective a bit. If many, many people experience such a shift, our government's show of force won't receive the outward support it might otherwise.

And when I point out that Falwell and Robertson's Christian extremism, which has led followers to bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, would hardly be reason for anyone to bomb the South in the regions where they live, my friends laugh at the absurdity and again, must make a connection that brings the matter back home.

We have an environment, already, in which not going along with the crowd raises a general fear that can interfere with clear thinking. I suggest that addressing this difficult subject with others, rather than respecting their silence, may help them clarify their own thinking a bit and therefore show another kind of respect.

Diana Morley

Reprinted with permission


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