Weaponized Dialogue


If you look up the definition of dialogue in common language, you find it is a conversation between two or more people with the intent of exchanging ideas or opinions on a particular issue.  The intent is supposedly to reach amicable agreement, settlement, and possibly some “middle ground.”

The term weaponized is generally associated with germ or chemical warfare where the basic idea is that something that will kill or at least immobilize the enemy is concentrated so much that it can be delivered as a lethal strike in combat.

Now, some of you must be thinking, “Why did Joel come up with this combination of words now?”

Well, it all started about two weeks ago when I brought out a toaster that was given to us as a gift for buying appliances during our house renovation.  Let’s just say that it is an industrial strength, heavy, solid stainless steel monster.  Our son Stephen came into the room as I was using it for the first time and declared it “a weaponized toaster that could probably put the toast into low orbit when done.”

Obviously, he was trying to be cute in his usual Big Bang Theory style smarty-pants way.  I just can’t figure out where he gets that.  But, that stuck with me all day and became central to how I started to think about our communication style today.  Our language styles have moved from just being helpful (making tasty toast) to winning wars in our own minds … and leaving a lot of dead bodies in our paths.

Think about the news cycle for a moment and watch it with this idea in mind.  Is there an exchange of ideas with the intent to reach amicable agreement?  Or, is it a take no prisoners exchange.  Did Megan Kelly really want an explanation from Donald Trump about his thoughts or was she lobbing a grenade to improve her image and value?  Did President Obama hope to gain anything when he called Russian President Putin a thug?

It seems we are making increasingly bad choices about the way we conduct ourselves.  We can label this polarization and call it out as a bad thing, or we can look deep within ourselves and look a bit more critically about how we add fuel to this unhealthy fire.

We need to stop the arms race.  We have to cool our jets and seek not just middle ground, but potentially higher ground in our dialogue.  There is a better way.  Seems we have based our calendar on the person who made this the central idea of his life 2000 years ago.

Doesn’t anyone remember the “Golden Rule?”  Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.  Yep, your right, that same guy said it … over and over again.


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