Monday, January 12 2009

On the second day of the seminar there was a secret service agent, a museum director and two journalists that made my morning interesting. The secret service agent’s hardest question for the day concerned the shoe throwing incident in Iraq December 14, 2008. This question however had a lot of thought behind it. The girl who asked wouldn’t settle for the answer that the secret service could not do much because it was just shoes and nothing else; she wanted to discuss the principle, the principle of allowing people to throw a shoe at the president. My guess is that she wanted to discuss that it wasn’t really about the shoes, it was about respect. If the secret service allows someone to throw a shoe at the president they show the world that they don’t really have to respect the president of U.S. She finally gave up and I don’t think she was too overwhelmed with the answer. I can understand her. But I can understand him as well. A shoe is just a shoe and while in Rome you do as Romans do as long as you possibly can and especially if it is about such sensitive things as politics. The world would have gone crazy if Bush’s secret service agents had jumped out and beat the journalist up and that would not have done any good for anyone, because in the end, it was just shoes.

Theory and practice are two different things, which became very clear with the student who had put a lot of thoughts in theories and principles and the secret service agent who lives in that reality. In reality theories and principles does not matter, every situation speak for itself. Other than that particular question his lecture concerned what he do on his job. Even though this matter interests me, it was the authors of the book "Common grounds" that made time fly.

They were witty, funny and had a good idea to pursue. It was obvious from the start who was conservative and who was liberal and I am sure they do it on purpose; they are both media personalities and know how to work a crowd. Never-the less, their message is one of the smartest things I ever heard and is exactly what I am trying to live by. It is not about who’s right; it’s about going forward and solving problems and bickering is not a good way of doing that. Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel gave a well rehearsed performance about why people with different opinions should discuss. They stressed that it is important to discuss the goal, because the goal is mostly the same; everyone wants to achieve something good and make the society and life better; the difference lies in how to get there. To be able to criticize oneself as well as the other person is a key factor in making the discussion work. Even though Thomas and Beckel were very humorous about it, it is not that certain that a discussion between people who do not know each other would be as fun but they make a good point that you should keep yourself distanced from the matter discussed. This idea, however is not new. In ancient Athens, Greece, discussion was the central thing in their society and the starting point for democracy. I grew up learning that no matter what, discussion is always a god thing. No matter with whom or about what, you can always learn something new and you will always teach someone else something new by discussing with people you meet.


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