Talking about Talk

How should nations and peoples respond to issues of incompatible interest, pursuit over limited resources and underlying questions of self-determination? Perhaps, the problem is as ancient as human history. Evidently, human beings have invested more in preparing for and waging war than in any other human enterprise. Most States invest more resources on military preparedness than on education, health and housing combined. Given that human beings have invested primarily in preparation for war as a response to conflict, it should not be surprising when violence quickly occurs during confrontations. After all, as you sow, so shall you reap! 

Considering the extent of State militarization, ‘peace processes’ are reduced to nothing more than military rearrangement of life rather than seizing the opportunity to seek genuine resolutions to conflict. The very representation of this process as peace is enough to arouse fears associated with victimization and criticism of the social narrative of suffering. In times of conflict, suffering and sense of victimhood reinforce in constituting an identity, which destroys positive memory of the ‘other.’ The interplay of violence and fear construct memories of inclusion and exclusion from a given historical reality. 

Fear fed on a perception of hate and retribution serves as motivator to the violence exercised daily. Babu Ayindo says, “To emphasize retribution is the surest way to poison the seeds of reconciliation. If anything, retribution turns offenders into heroes and fertilizes the circle of violence.” A victim-centered approach deals only with the past, where justice is deemed upon as inflicting suffering on the victimizers. It lacks political will to restore relationship and is the surest way of turning a victim into a victimizer. The power of hate holds a person captive to the past, and is unable to move into a future that demands restoration of right relationship.

The end of real or imaginary fears and the end of victimization with all its political implications, and the admission with public recognition of the ‘other’ is fundamental towards investing and preparing for any realistic hope for a dignified peace. Human experience has shown patterns in which unresolved issues of the past invariably resurfaces in present processes. Recognizing that problems forgotten and memories could return to haunt present dialogues for peace, it becomes a matter of political expediency to constructively address them. Avoidance of old dilemmas could result in delaying the pursuit of a dignified peace.  

In any process of negotiation, perhaps the most crucial developments take place when the parties involved are Talking about Talk. Talking about Talk enables openness where people do not have to represent official positions, but could share genuine opinions without the dread of implications. Talking about Talk provides room for trust and confidence building and helps address issues of insecurity and fear. It contributes in creating a framework to build political consensus for resolution.