The Dialogue

Part One

by Jason D. Graziano



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 6/2/2006

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 5x8
Page Count : 204
ISBN : 9781412027649

About the Book

In a sped-up world, the virtues of introspection, reflection, and contemplation are sometimes discarded. As we rush to get to the "bottom line" on the numerous topics that we confront in the news and in our daily lives we can lose sight of the big picture as we narrow our focus on the seemingly most relevant details. The result is a world awash in rash judgements, harsh, but empty sound bytes, and self-fulfilling prophecies where the answers are had before the questions are even posed.

This book is my reaction to such a world. It is an attempt to inject more thoughtfulness into the great debates of our time and of the past. However, my solution, at least in this book, is not to delineate my answers to the philosophical problems of our world but to revel in the questions themselves. To explore the many dimensions of the questions in order to gain deeper understanding of the issues in hopes of finding a middle ground between the distant poles involved in the debate. This book is in no way an end to the is, hopefully, the beginning of a great discussion.

About the Author

Jason Graziano has studied at Cayuga Community College, SUNY Brockport, and SUNY Oswego. His love for intellectual and philosophical pursuits has been the impetus for the writing of this book and of books yet to come.



This book is in part (perhaps for the most part) a discussion about opposites. Opposite thoughts, ideas, plans of attack, and courses of action. I've tried to be fair to both sides of the particular arguments that I've delved into, but let's be honest, none of us is a totally impartial observer. We each approach situations with our own particular, unique mindset, biases and all. So, while I've tried to be fair, I'm sure I've given short shrift to certain points of view (possibly due to absent-mindedness, and possibly due to my own inability to see a situation from a particular point of view). However, even if I've been totally one-sided in my commentary (which I've at least tried to avoid), that doesn't really matter much as the goal of this book is larger in scope than a mere rehashing of old arguments about old issues that we've all heard a million times before. My goal is to get a discussion going again. I say "again" having the possibly delusional idea that there ever was a time of open, frank dialogue about deep issues affecting humanity which never seem to go away and yet, which it seems the majority of people would like to ignore.

Of course, the world is freer now that it's ever been and freedom to say whatever is on your mind is protected in many (though, not nearly enough) parts of the world. However, discussion of important deep issues is not as open as it could or should be even in our freest of societies. Why?

One reason has to be the speed at which our modern world moves. In today's society, who's got the time to stop what they're doing in order to sit and philosphize about all the hidden meanings in the daily happenings of life? Obviously, not too many of us. The demands of job, family, and social life are becoming ever more strict and time-consuming leading to busy, but not always fulfilling lives. Also, this speedy world values the quick, witty (but most importantly, quick) retort to situations over carefully thought out answers.

Another reason it seems as though discussions have been stifled is the ever-present love of all-encompassing ideologies which give you prepared, shrink-wrapped answers to all of life's little queries. This leads to much more talking, but with less actually being said as we don't live in a simple, black and white universe, but in a complex, subtle, dynamic one.

So, my overall goal is this: To get this discussion going again, not just talk and not just debate, but actual discussion aimed at bridging the gaps between warring ideologies. What usually tends to happen when two sides of a bitterly contested conflict get together to talk is that tempers flare and yelling ensues. I know. I've been on the receiving end of many a righteously idignant screaming session. And yet, I keep coming back for more. I think the reason I haven't learned my lesson is that I have this strange quirk in my thinking habits through which I seem to convince myself that whomever did the yelling didn't really mean all that they said. The Israeli's don't really think that the Palestinians are the scum of the Earth or vice versa. Protestants in Ireland don't really hate Catholics. Republicans don't really think that the Democrats are complete morons. While I might be wrong about these particular examples (they may really mean what they say) I think it's my way of giving each side the benefit of the doubt that they aren't vehement haters of the other side that keeps me ever-hopeful for compromise.

Now, all of that said, it really is pretty difficult to have a calm and reasoned discussion with another party on a topic about which you don't agree upon. How to get the ball rolling? How to keep the blood pressure from rising? How to attempt to see things eye-to-eye? Well, I'm sorry to say it, but damned if I know! But that's no reason to give up. Hands can not be thrown up in the air in defeat when compromise seems hopeless. That's all the more reason to keep at it. Use the human gifts of creativity and ingenuity to attempt to find some common ground, even if it's only the basic understanding that we are all humans and we don't necessarily have to be enemies if we can't agree on issues X or Y.

My own particular "ideology" or mindset through which I try to see the world is to have as broad a view as possible. There is so much life to know about, understand, and try to grasp that it is truly overwhelming. However, by having the broadest possible interests, this forces you to see issues from perspectives which you normally wouldn't and this (hopefully) makes you a more open-minded and inclusive individual. Try to see an issue from points of view other than your own default response. Explore the vast world of ideas and concepts that human minds have come up with and which our minds, with a little work, are able to grasp. Try to hold seemingly contradictory thoughts in your head at the same time in an attempt to see the middle ground where the answers must lie.

Of course, a note of caution must be given. By broadening your conceptual views, you tend to lose the ability to see issues in black and white. The easy answers that you once proffered to difficult questions tend to lose their weight and credence and a certain amount of clarity will be lost as well. However, this is a small price to pay for, one, the wonderfully invigorating world of ideas which will now be dancing in your head and two, a more inclusive, open-minded viewpoint which is more conducive to finding solutions to real world problems.

It is my belief that we can keep all of our wonderful diversity and still get along peaceably with one another. Some may call this view naive. If so, then I don't think I care to have any of the wisdom they are selling.

DA: I'd like to now pursue an avenue of thought that you alluded to a couple of times earlier. That is the concept of "the real world" and having people live in actual reality. What exactly do you mean?

I: And so the can of worms is opened. Again, I'll oversimplify my thoughts in summary first, and then I'll elaborate as we continue on.

DA: Thank you for the warning.

I: Don't mention it. Every person has basic assumptions about reality and how the world works. It is these assumptions which subconsciously dictate what our conscious decisions and actions will be.

DA: Now hold the phone, friend. I agree that people have deeply held beliefs about reality. But, don't an awful lot of people float through life without a thought in their heads, merely going on instinct?

I: A lot of people do just go on instinct. They will do and say what they will because it is what they did and said yesterday. But, you used the key word there... instinct. For the most part, if you're merely running on autopiliot, you are acting unconsciously. What I'm talking about is when people are making conscious decisions and performing conscious actions.

You see, everyone on Earth is a philosopher, whether they know it or now. Everyone has a personal philosophy, whether is be silently saying to oneself "I don't give a shit," all day long, or whether it is the most empowering "I am going to change the world," type philosophy. Now, what is the nature of philosophies? They are ways of living and looking at the world based upon underlying assumptions about what reality is, how the world works, and which actions and responses achieve the best results in the world. It is these underlying assumptions that I am most concerned with. At present, we do a disservice to mankind by allowing false assumptions about wh