Doing Dialogue

It's Gettin' Hot In Here

June 4, 2017

The room has gotten warmer.

Heated debates about everything from red VS blue, gun rights, racial profiling to same sex marriage and abortion, have been turned up a notch in the last year. Climate change skeptics are in denial of a major uptick in racist, anti-immigrant behavior in the U.S. And activists leading marches with conviction, hold up signs in defense of their beliefs while getting drowned in opposition.

Leading social scientists, human rights organizations and conflict resolution specialists gesture toward a world in which The First Amendment could be underwater within our lifetime. We can see, live, the melting of social cohesion, the extinction of certain inalienable rights, an significant increase in harmful language pollution and aggressive mudslides of hurtful speech.

One might wish for a thermostat, a regulator to control the temperature to keep the language from reaching dangerous levels. And even if there was such a device, who would have control of it?

We. We have the power of dialogue. The constitutional right, an international accord, a global matter. Truly listening and acknowledging the other side is our own giant step for humankind. Groundbreaking conversations can restore trust and lay the foundation for collaborative action.

And for that, we can turn up the heat.

Teja joined Essential Partners in April, 2017. He brings a thirty-year combined experience as a PBS documentary producer, professor of media/communications and race & ethnic relations, diversity and inclusion trainer and public speaker. He has an Emmy Award and three Telly Awards for social issues PBS documentaries, and is the author of four books about race and culture. He started his company, Entertaining Diversity, Inc. in 1992, to teach issues of racism through entertainment. Teja is African-American/Filipino and German, and grew up in Japan, has traveled through many countries and has been a keynote speaker in over 1,200 locations around the US. Telling stories that build bridges between many perspectives has always been his mission in life and work.

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