Friday, May 9, 2008

A Time for Honest Debate

By Wim Laven
(559 Words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

Balancing majority rule against minority rights may be the single most important feature of the American democratic process. In order to find, and keep a just balance we encourage lively debate, thoughtful compromise, and tolerance. For this it seems understanding one another would be fundamental. Yet, how many times have you been given the advice, “whatever you do – don’t talk about politics?” My guess: too many times to count. It’s the kind of advice that reflects the way people think, and what they value. This thinking suggests voters do not want to debate the issues, and our politicians have taken this message to heart.

I want to know when people are going to seriously talk about working toward lasting peace. It is easy to point fingers at the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and it seems people are quick to pick a reason, “we shouldn’t have been there to begin with” or “it was a bunch of lies… we were after the oil” but when it comes to the difficult part – “what’s next;” people tend to quiet down...

...It seems people sitting on couches need to be able to do more than just “agree to disagree," because there are real consequences and we should be thinking about them...

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Wim Laven is a mediator and masters candidate in conflict resolution at Portland State University. He worked on Conflict Sensitive Reconstruction with the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.


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