In the wake of 9-11, how should a civilized society respond to assaults on its citizenry? Should we resort to tactics of war, as though the militants are speaking for the majority of entire people-groups? Shall we invade sovereign nations, assassinate leaderships, subvert authorities, coerce retaliation by the opposition parties, or any other methods which have already been tried and failed to persuade?
Perhaps thoughtful nations could persuade leadership that another method is now in order-that of meaningful dialogue as a prologue to meaningful changes that will bring an end to discrimination against people groups and individuals. Those who bristle at the thought of engaging in negotiations with "terrorist" groups will seek to argue that this will send a signal that in so-doing we send a message to terrorists that their cruel methods are now justified in resolving any given dispute.
When a parent resolves a conflict with a rebellious teenager, similar arguments may be used to persuade either party that a given situation is unjustified for various reasons. Hopefully, the methods used by either the parent or the teenager never escalate to open warfare and retaliation, but can instead focus on more effective solutions. Perhaps the offending party has a legitimate concern which can be addressed in a civilized manner without either postponing or minimizing the complaint, but rather dealing with and promoting workable solutions which will satisfy and encourage open-dialogue and long-term benefits to both parties. Recognizing the maturity of the offended party to at least lodge a complaint which is admitted by the offending party will go a long way toward the eventual path of resolution which is employed by both parties.
By encouraging meaningful discussions which lead to just and sustainable solutions with minority groups, we may be able to prevent militant formulas from developing in the first place. After all, the teenager who has been encouraged toward responsible and independent adulthood is much less likely to resort to forceful objections toward his parents. Parents and governments must be more skillful in perceiving factors which indicate readiness to participate and be included in larger and more global transactions.
There is always some risk that the individual will disappoint in the freedom which has been granted to him. Still, without the attempt, society can never progress toward individual or cooperative maturity. Let's make the attempt, then to include others in this larger discussion and participation, which allow for the expansion and betterment of our individual and world cultures.
Let's learn from these lessons those larger methods by which we can grow closer as nations to resolving issues which can both divide and unite us. Rather than viewing this tragedy in Mumbai as just another example of failed negotiations, let's avoid the double-tragedy of militancy and polarization, and seek to promote meaningful dialogue leading to just and sustainable solutions to our civil and national conflicts and create a template that is exemplary.