I’m reminded of some things Michael Nagler said in his webcast (that used to be available on UC Berkley’s site but apparently got lost in the shuffle) on Peace & Conflict Studies. I’ve got the audio somewhere. If I was a bit more sure of the rights on it, I’d post it up since it wasn’t removed from publication on purpose (Mike, if you’re out there, let me know how you and UC Berkley would feel about this; It’s a really valuable course and it’s a shame it’s no longer available on the web).
Anyway, the gist is that in order to come to an understanding we have to really listen to each other and we have to really want what’s best for the other party. And do to that, we both have to recognize each other as human. In that moment. Though Mike didn’t say that precisely.
I think on the whole, we tend to treat our fellow combatants as symbols rather than whole humans. The difficulty is that if I treat the other party in a discussion as a whole, fully realized human but they treat me as a symbol, I will lose my position and cede things I need.
Considering I’m on the losing side of the global conversation on things I’m likely to be fighting about, this isn’t a tenable position for me to take.
Which brings us back around to something else Mike said. You can’t be nonviolent (or, in this context, treat your opponent as a fully realized human being) if your opponent doesn’t recognize you as human.
So many on the “winning” side of the argument see themselves on the losing side of the argument, further complicating matters.
Note: I no longer call myself a pacifist but that’s a complicated subject that’s fairly off topic. If the PACS concept of pacifism was the dominant definition, I would still consider myself a pacifist but explaining that would, again, be really off topic.
ETA: Oh, wait. I don’t know if this is the right course or not but there is a Youtube series of one of Mike’s courses.