The Agenda for Dialogues among Civilizations should be Human Survival

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The Agenda for Dialogues among Civilizations should be Human Survival

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THE Agenda for Dialogues Among Civilizations Should be Human Survival Prepared for the ISCSC’s 34th conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA at the University of St. Thomas, June 9-11, 2005. By Michael Andregg, University of St. Thomas, Abstract The first, and last item on my agenda for dialogues among civilizations is human survival. The prime reason is that this goal generates more cooperation and less argument than any other I have found. If we are to avoid the “clash” of civilizations that many fear, we should avoid angry “debates” about political or ideological issues. The core difference between a “clash” or a “debate” and a “dialogue” is style or tone. These are vague concepts, but profoundly important. Safe food, clean water, fuel for heating and fibers to wear or write on can be politicized (as can anything) but they are also the most universal human needs. Therefore they are also understood by the illiterate as well as by erudite elites. The goal of human survival promotes a positive tone that helps with the very hard work of finding viable solutions to the manifold challenges of our time. From this point of entry, 10,000 other topics can be discussed constructively, including contentious ones. The point is to establish more rapport between participants than often exists initially, by focusing on common ground before the more difficult issues of war, peace and politics inevitably emerge. Even religion and its varieties may be dialogued very constructively if rapport exists with some minimal empathy for the problems that other human beings face. Lacking this, if one starts with religion or politics by contrast, one too often encounters dogmatic views or demonization of the other, and constructive dialogue becomes nearly impossible. Here are some threats to human survival that might better be addressed by a “dialogue” instead of a great “debate” among the civilizations of the earth today. War should be obvious, particularly when weapons of mass destruction are considered. Energy, oil-based and otherwise, is a challenge of vast scale with huge consequences for all. Threats to human survival include the many environmental challenges and even catastrophes cited by the recent Report of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, and forewarned by the Global 2000 Report to the President (of the United States, then Jimmy Carter) 25 years ago. They include religious extremism (or militant religion) and the challenges of how to preserve cultural and political diversity in an age of globalization. Each of those threats to physical or cultural survival includes many sub-topics, all of which benefit from a constructive attitude among those who seek solutions through dialogue as opposed to debate. Partisan bickering is the antithesis of this. So I say again that promoting this attitude is as important as any topic or line item on an agenda. No, it is more important than the intellectual elements on such lists of good things one might do.


This was an early attempt to focus notoriously broad view civilizationalists on shorter term crises facing our kind.

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Andregg, Michael M.. (2005). The Agenda for Dialogues among Civilizations should be Human Survival. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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