'On dialogue' - a few words about 2017

Marleen Stikker

This has been a tough year for those who believe in the good in people. The year brought us a toxic mix of an orange buffoon, a handful of intrusive tech giants, and greedy politicians presented on a silver Russian platter. Closer to home, we were served our own dangerous cocktail of ignorance: containing a narcissistic xenophobe who became Dutch politician of the year, privacy-killing surveillance laws, and politicians flip-flopping on vital democratic tools. Never before was it so clear that our financial systems, technologies and politics are made of the same fabric.

It is clear that we cannot take our future for granted.

A few positive notes: we found a new religion in Doughnut Economics, there is a growing interest in the innovation potential of civil society, and discussing algorithms and trolley problems have become common at family dinners and birthday parties.

Some things are changing for the good.

Essential in all this is that we leave our echo chambers and comfortable silos behind and find ways to start a dialogue with the followers of buffoons and flip-floppers.

A true dialogue is not the same as exchanging opinions. You will not find true dialogue in talk shows and town halls. David Bohm would argue that people are addicted to their own thoughts and that only true dialogue can open up new insights and understanding. His book 'On Dialogue' will be translated in Dutch and published the coming year (and we are planning to programme a public event around it). It is a perfect handbook for the coming festive dinners.

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