Honest negotiation & becoming a citizen of the world.

...however we order our varied loyalties, we should still be sure that we recognize the worth of human life wherever it occurs and see ourselves bound by common human abilities and problems to people who lie at a great distance from us.
– Martha Nussbaum.

A particular representation might be valid. ‘Affront’ or ‘outrage’ might be a rational reaction. Actual harm may have been inflicted on real people and the reporting may be entirely trustworthy. But we must not allow the quickening of our blood to override rationality.

I do not advocate an absence of moral sensibility, rather a proactive hesitance to suffer offence, for if we are to ever become true ‘citizens of the world’ we must first learn to employ a new language, a new rhetoric, within our everyday lives.

    A letter to my fellow citizen,

    For much of my adult life I have stood alongside Plato, ever ready to declare that ‘justice is to be cherished for its own sake because it is an orderly state of oneself and because being in such an orderly state, with one’s desires regulated by a correct account of what is worth valuing, is something precious.’ Yet now I become unsure.

    What is worth valuing? Is justice universal? Is an orderly state a cultural artefact? Is it personal conceit?

    That I may have to reassess the nature of some of my firmest convictions is a distasteful knowledge. Part of me rebels. In so many ways it is wholly unwelcome. I have valued surety above almost all else, yet I value the ‘kind king light of mind’ more; rational appraisal insists I learn to doubt.

    Is this an official credo of the cosmopolitan? No. Is it a valid suggestion? Yes. Is this a cohesive ideology? No. Am I starting to understand? Yes. Slowly, incrementally, I believe I am.

    Contradiction and discord will not vanish when the armour of nationalism and the sword of patriotic fervour are set aside. There will always be much to divide us. There will be clash of culture. There will always be a gap between one ethos and another. Religion, history, geography, and aspiration will always be asymmetrical however carefully we slice the social pie.

    The ‘new’ will not spring fully formed and coherent simply as a result of being willing to meet the ‘other’. We must also be able to negotiate. Not cast aside any particular personal ethic - just that cherished illusion of a cohesive ethos.

    How might I ask the ‘other’ to join with me as equal, to negotiate the framework of our brand new world, if I am unwilling to question my own fundamentals? Especially those most cherished and held dear.

    But with no cohesive ethos to act as a common compass; how do we find our way?

    I propose the rhetoric of honest negotiation. Recognising not one morality, but a host of moralities. Considering each ‘other’ on a case by case basis, always consciously refuting the need to knit a cohesive ethos - that chimera of possible consistency that so divides us at the level of clique, city, state, and nation.

    We must each, personally, embrace the sure knowledge that the many will always believe differently - yet still validly.

    What is a rhetoric of honest negotiation?

      o Always be insulted by physical, sexual, emotional, or political abuse; for these are crimes regardless of their currency or guise.
      o Always refuse to knowingly vilify.
      o When, unthinkingly, you do vilify another person or group, be ready to apologise and reconsider your suppositions.
      o Refuse to colonise another citizen’s conscience under any circumstances. (Inferring dishonourable motives where they are unknown, and unrecoverable, is a crime against another citizen. It is slander.)
      o When invited by a friend, an acquaintance, or an authority, to be affronted or outraged at the actions of an ‘other’ - turn your personal conviction into public pronouncement. (Courteously yet firmly say “I don’t know.”)
      o And never tender an inappropriate apology.
      o As everyone has a right to their own perception of offence.

    Your uncertain friend,
    a fellow citizen of the world

Vilification by default

The development and employment of an inclusive and self-conscious rhetorical habit is often portrayed as being petty-minded and ‘politically correct’. I respectfully disagree.

Vilification of the ‘other’ is only infrequently occasioned by conscious design and crudely apparent vilifications rarely entertain a wide audience. Much more invidious is that vilification buried within a discourse of outrage or affront, here slanderous supposition often passes unchallenged, so assisting unhelpful public stereotypes to gain in credence and currency.

Slander in this form must be proactively negotiated for when (knowingly) we fail to point out a publicly proclaimed denigration - we conspire in the propagation of vilification by default.

Whenever we voice a question about the exotic or the other instead of instantly jumping to a conclusion - we speak as a citizen of the world.


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JiMM wrote:
But with no cohesive ethos to act as a common compass; how do we find our way? What is a rhetoric of honest negotiation?

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fear...
Mankind's social order of imbalance...
The cohesive ethos of divisive politics.

Respect, Regard, Relevance, Resolution...
The universal state of being, In*Balance, as One-All*Ways...
The principle cohesive ethos of Our*Humanity.

Bruce Larson*Moore

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