The power of meeting across political divides

The power of meeting across political divides
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(Christoph Haug) #1

Meetings are not just workplace meetings. Indeed, as @wilbert has shown in his book Meetings, Manners and Civilization it is only since the mid 20th century that the business meeting has become the dominant model of “the” meeting. Before that, during the proliferation of liberal democracy, the role model for what a meeting is and should be, was the parliament, a political body. Wilbert van Vree also reminds us that the precondition for meetings as we know them today (whether business or parliamentarian) was that all parties abstain from violence (at least until the meeting is over). Warriors left their weapons “at the door” to talk to their enemies and find peaceful (or less violent) solutions to the benefit of all.

In their book Deliberation Across Deeply Divided Societies, @jsteiner and his colleagues show the power of meeting (though their main term is deliberation) across deep political divides in Colombia (discussions between ex-guerrillas and ex-paramilitaries), Bosnia-Herzegovina (Serbs and Bosnjaks) and Brazil (police officers and favela residents).

But we don’t need to go back to the middle ages or to contemporary civil wars to discover the potential of meeting and talking things through with others who disagree @SherryHeyl is organizing such meetings today in the USA (arguably a divided society). Read her story here: