I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diplomacy.

Really, about diplomacy v. debate.   

In school, we learn to be debate champions. Opposing arguments for opposing viewpoints, listening to opponent’s talking points only to counter them, to bring the audience back to our own studied point of view.

Then ask, what makes my way the righteous way?

This begs diplomacy.

Diplomacy requires listening, comprehensiveness, perception, and understanding. We all know diplomacy guides international relations but, really, are we not all diplomatic in daily life? With our children? With our spouses and – in-laws?  With our masks and gloves and… six-feet of distancing?

Today we find ourselves bound together by the pandemic of our time… COVID 19 – that raised its spikey head to change the world as we know it, ready in its microscopic intelligence to bring the genius of modern humanity to its knees, remind us of our fragility, our vulnerability.        

And of our stupidity. Did we not foresee this inevitable coming?  Are we so certain of our dominion over this earth to have been so vastly unprepared for this life event?

One doesn’t live through such a time without questioning the significance of life, perhaps even of our very purpose on earth in the outskirts of the Milky Way among some 300 million potentially habitable planets discovered within our own galaxy.  Yet, here on Earth we’re busy fighting among ourselves. Rich-poor; Black-white; Man-woman – child. Billions of dollars spent annually on the art of war, rather than the art of peace.  Billions spent by a minority of world leaders that a visitor from one of those other planets might call – bad management.   But here’s the golden lining. We are – all of us –  at a moment in time and space where we may rise together.

What are our choices? Are we doomed to demonize those who disagree with us? Are other ideas not worthy of … listening?

Albert Einstein once said a regret was not paying attention earlier in his life to the mystics. He said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”-

Of course, the rational mind has its uses in this…  somewhat irrational world where our feet straddle the curve between yin and yang, order and chaos, those seeming opposites that are interconnected. But the intuitive mind is nonlinear and heart-centered where one puts more understanding into a situation than into deliberating what to do.

The word intuition itself comes from the Latin verb intueri translated as “consider” or from the late middle English word intuit, “to contemplate.”

Theologian scholar and mystic Thomas Merton said, “Contemplation is the highest expression of a (one’s) intellectual and spiritual life… It is spiritual wonder…spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life… gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being.”

Does this not speak to your heart?

Are we not all capable of giving and deserving of receiving such an understanding?

It’s been said that the last person in the room to speak is the smartest, but it must be added, provided that last person was… listening. The art of diplomacy uses listening to understand one’s POV and culture, to validate their story. Listening is a path to peace as we look upon one another with respect.

How do we move forward to hone a mastery of listening across the skills of both debate and diplomacy?

How do we come together in harmony and peace?

Artists render the heart and soul of these connections.

They listen to your stories and tell them – they put them to music and dance them and paint them.

They tell you stories and you listen.

The art if storytelling brings us together.

The art of storytelling heals.

We all have stories to tell.

What is your story?

I’m listening.