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Dialog among Civilizations: Whytalksfail? Part-1

Zahir Ebrahim | 23.03.2007 05:15 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Education | World

This analysis explores why dialogs among civilizations continually fail to produce results by showcasing one short dialog as an illustrative example. The showcased dialog is meant to illustrate the depth of passion, preconceptions, and self-interests that often formulate opposing view points such that if ever they come together for a discussion, they fail to communicate despite all the rationality and compassion they can muster in the best of cases, friends. The Preamble is informally structured into three seamless sections. First section is the narrative that highlights vast disparity in views, emotional affiliations, and cultural attachments, as exemplary of any deeply contentious and dichotomous problem space that is insoluble and irresolute under current best practices among nations and peoples. The second section is the analysis that points towards a rational approach that can potentially make this problem tractable and make contentious dialogs among civilizations actually work despite jealously coddled self-interests. It further examines a snippet from a dialog between former American President Jimmy Carter and his detractors on his own new book "Palestine, Peace not Apartheid" to extend the analysis. The third section develops the rational solution space by proposing a strangely commonsensical algorithm that has hitherto been ignored by nations and statesmen alike, like the proverbial trumpeting elephant in the bridal suite. It further makes suggestions on how to globally deploy this algorithm to validate its premise. The Preamble is followed by a short illustrative dialog in the form of letters and replies to demonstrate how dialogs fail. The illustrative sequence showcasing where it succeeds is left for Part-2. Hopefully that will happen - by employing the commonsensical algorithm developed here - before another civilization is made to hit the dust at the hands of hectoring hegemons!

Dialog among Civilizations: Whytalksfail? Part-1

Zahir Ebrahim
March 16-17, 2007

(c) Project HumanbeingsfirstTM. Permission granted to use freely as per copyright notice.

Document ID: PHBFZE20070317 URL: Discussion Space:

You are forewarned that moral education can be quite poisonous to the mind, read at your own risk.


This is a short collection of an interesting and very frustrating email exchange between two friends, me, and my best friend from childhood, Harveyetta. Or simply Harvey, as I like to call her. Albeit she likes to call herself yetta. Harvey is a quintessential realist. She examines the world around her and only makes her conclusions based upon what she observes through her five senses, and only as a perfect Poisson process. What this means is that she soon forgets what she has seen or heard in the past, and concentrates on the reality du jour as it contemporaneously unfolds around her. So sometimes I also call her "Ms. Reality". Of course, as she also happens to be a 7 feet tall gorgeous female Pooka Rabbit who seems to have befriended me for no particular reason, the nonsequitur does not bother me as much. She often disappears for years, and then sometimes shows up out of nowhere becoming my constant companion for days with no explanations for her absence; and I certainly ask for none fearful of learning of her infidelities in strange lands. Except that she always brings back the imprints of the region and the peoples that her travels have taken her, as her own manifest personality du jour. Thus sometimes I get a virtual tour of new peoples and new civilizations and often learn a lot during her short mercurial visits.

So when I serendipitously ran into her earlier today at a local cafe-cum-bookstore sipping Turkish coffee at a table all by herself, and apparently looking for a Fibonacci partner, I was ecstatic! The strangest thing was, no one could see her, but me - what a beautiful mind, huh?

Now me, I am the super surrealist, with an infinitely long memory. I never forget a thing, going as far back in time as the beginning of recorded history, and before that to the passing of verbal history, going all the way back to the Neanderthal period. Thus I am fully acquainted with the tools used to settle disputes over the past 100,000 years! Not a whole lot has changed since the club was discovered by our ancestors to beat the poor harmless Neanderthals into extinction. Thus I perceive the world unlike anyone else ever can, in its full surreal context, with what is kept veiled, as well as with what is made manifest. How much further apart can two friends be?

Even more interestingly, I am an ordinary plebeian of Muslim descent from Pakistan. Harvey is an atheist of blue blood lineage, and is at least 3000 years old, or so she claims! Her last visit seems to have been to the Holy Lands of Galilee in Canaan, for she was acting remarkably like a staunch Zionist du jour, as one might encounter for instance, at or, rehearsing aloud the manifesto of "clash of civilizations" but in the variation "It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians" (see here1). In fact, Harvey amazingly seemed to be a strange amalgam of the neocons from AEI, Heritage, and Hudson busily lining the "power-streets" in Washington DC, the liberal "Left", and the conservative "Right", all rolled into one 7 feet tall "ubermensch" friend of Zion!

This time, unlike her previous serendipitous visitations, I had a hard time relating to her because she seemed to be very much against the Muslims, having learnt all kinds of "things" about us. Being a Poisson process, she obviously had no conception of history, nor retained any lingering memories of her travels to vast lands and places over her 3000 year lifespan. Nevertheless, the moment she saw me, she hugged me quite excitedly as long lost friends, and we started chatting engagingly for several hours on everything under the Sun, except of course, her vast travels. The fact that she could always remember me and could always end up in the same place as me whenever she craved my company, I could only attribute to her fantastic infinite neuronal states in the Hilbert spaces of her hare brain that were apparently only perfectly Poisson when it suited her. And she immediately became my interlocutor!

I had been in Pakistan the previous year on the investigative & social-relief-work beat so to speak, and she especially quizzed me on the topics of "Muslim terrorism", and Pakistan's role in creating "evil jihadis", and "why Pakistanis and Muslims hated Israel and the Jews?", and why Islam was such a "terrorist religion?" and she blanketly asserted that "it needed some major reforming in order to save the Western Civilization"!

Indeed, she rehearsed these thoughts so eloquently that I almost felt that the mighty oracle, Bernard Lewis, and perhaps even Daniel Pipes, were speaking through her (see here2 and here3 for BL, here1 for DP):

'The solution, said Dr. Daniel Pipes, is not to adopt the left-wing policies of discussion and appeasement, which he said were useless against this barbaric foe, but, rather, to defeat it and promote the emergence of an Islam that is "modern, moderate, democratic, humane, liberal, good neighborly, and respectful of women, homosexuals, atheists, and whoever else. One that grants non-Muslims equal rights with Muslims."

Radical Islam, sometimes called Islamism, is the problem, he said, moderate Islam is the solution.'

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Thank You,


Zahir Ebrahim
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