The three most important words for humanity today are dialogue, reflection and dialectic!
Let's start with the definitions:
Dialogue comes from the Greek and can be divided into dia=through and logos= words and meaning. Dialogue is a thoughtful way of talking and thinking together that creates a common meaning and understanding among a group of people. The spirit of dialogue is to understand rather than to persuade. Dialogue enables organisations and societies to engage the collective intelligence of participants to make better decisions.
Reflection means to think carefully about an issue or topic. We foster our self- growth when we intentionally shape our learning through thoughtful reflection. When we pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and actions, we increase our awareness. Reflection also involves drawing forth cognitive and emotional information we gather from other various sources, such as auditory, visual and tactile. Reflection is synthesizing and evaluating the information, rather than simply storing data.
Dialectics involves making assertions (thesis) that are countered by counterarguments (antithesis). After careful consideration, a logical synthesis is then put together, in which the new insights are formulated. This can be done individually or in groups.
What is the state of dialogue, reflection and dialectics in today's society? Not so good, because:
- people tend to spend less and less time on dialogue and more and more time on passive media consumption
- people do too little reflection because of other priorities
- people tend not to think critically
Simply put, a large part of the population often stares several hours a day into TV, mobile, tablets and laptops, and talks, reflects and analyses less, at least about humanity's global challenges and societal problems. If people talk about global problems and societal issues, it is usually in the form of quick reactions and not deep and long dialogues.
In the past, political mistakes were relatively easy to fix because there was a fair amount of inertia in the system, but today when 1) the complexity of society is high 2) problems are everywhere 3) technology is developing exponentially 4) we are globally connected both digitally and physically, and 5) the media magnifies every mistake, relatively harmless mistakes can create domino effects that could cause the whole system to collapse.
Why is the above deeply troublesome? Because humanity is blindly walking towards a cliff without understanding the consequences. If global challenges and societal problems are allowed to get bigger and bigger, or if they are addressed with proposals not grounded in deep insight, humanity will doom itself and perhaps the planet.
This is why the words dialogue, reflection and dialectic are so important, because they develop our wisdom and ability to anticipate, understand and respond to challenges.