Prose – On Dialogue
Some time ago there was an anthropologist
who lived for a long while with a North American tribe,
a small group of twenty to forty.
Now, from time to time the tribe met in a circle.
They just talked and talked, apparently to no purpose.
They made no decisions.
There was no leader.
And everybody could participate.
There may have been wise men or wise women
who were listened to a bit more – the older ones –
but everybody could talk.
The meeting went on,
until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed.
Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do,
because they understood each other so well.
Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.
There may be no pat political “answer” to the world’s problems.
However, the important point is not the answer
– just as in dialogue, the important point is not the particular opinions –
but rather the softening up, the opening up, of the mind, and looking at all the opinions.
If we can all suspend our assumptions and look at them,
then we are all in the same state of participatory consciousness.
In dialogue the whole structure of defensiveness and opinions and division can collapse.
I think the whole human race knew this for a million years,
and then in five thousand years of civilization we have lost it,
because our societies got too big.
But now we have to get started again,
because it has become urgent that we communicate,
to share our consciousness.
We must be able to think together,
in order to do intelligently whatever is necessary.