Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is "Dialogue" Worthless?

How often have we heard a talking head say, "We need a national dialogue/discussion/debate in this country about [fill in the blank]?" It's often said when some some hot potato issue hits the front pages of the newspapers and internet sites. Pick an issue and this statement probably has been said about it:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Stem-cell research
Homosexual rights
Race relations
Discrimination
Gender issues
Fiscal/economic policy
Foreign policy
etc.

While saying, "We need a national dialogue/discussion/debate," sounds like a noble thing I believe it's a largely worthless sentiment. Why? Take a peek at the
ad hoc list above and tell me which of these issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the American people?

That's the problem with "dialogue". It doesn't work, at least on a national scale. Sure, informal conversations may sway a person here and there but let's face it: a devout Christian who is pro-life and a secularist who is pro-choice probably will never agree because their worldviews are too dissimilar. The Christian believes King David when the monarch of old penned:
Psa 139:13-16 ESV
(13) For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
(14) I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(15) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
(16) Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
The secularist may say, "Nice poetry," but doesn't buy the argument. These two Americans interpret their world differently based upon different assumptions (underlying beliefs) and thus come to different conclusions about the meaning of things.

The concept is too nebulous. It's largely meaningless. To paraphrase Morgan Freeman from
The Shawshank Redemption, "'Dialogue' is a politician's word." I fear that when a talking head tells the American people that they need a national dialogue then the person should just say, "We'll probably have massive disagreement and never find resolution to this issue in this generation, if ever."