Si vis pacem para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)
Roman Maxim.
Wars are caused by undefended wealth.
Ernest Hemingway,
Douglas MacArthur
Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravity.
Leon Trotsky
In an earlier post, I was bothered by hidden implications I saw in the phrase “willingness to learn.” The idea that “learning” should be redefined to mean not so much learning, but actually agreeing with people strikes me as such a distortion of the definition of learning, that I thought I should, er, learn more! (I mean, there were — and still are — places where people are sent to learn how to agree called “reeducation camps.”)
These concerns were on my mind as I stumbled onto an entirely new method of learning which is based on Intentional Communication (IC):

Intentional Communication is a dimensional tool for self-reflection, offering training support for effective conflict transformation across the divides of perception. It is dimensional in the sense that it includes the complexity of human development in its assessments. When we communicate with each other, we take into consideration our ability to be present to the exchange based on a combination of identity factors on the personal, social and cultural levels.
IC is used in Opening of the Heart workshops and communities in focused settings for interfaith, business and dialogue trainings, and in communication curriculum for the classroom. The intention of these programs is to enable adults and children to recognize the interconnected nature of our world and understand that personal responsibility and global responsibility are inseparable.

Hmmmm…. Does that mean if you don’t subscribe to the above communitarian jargon, you’re not communicating “intentionally”?
More probably, they’d say it means I’m intentionally not listening. Because, of course, we cannot intentionally communicate unless we intentionally listen. Here’s the definition of Intentional Listening.

Intentional Listening offers training to explore the intention of our listening to one another and to self, leading to enhanced awareness about responsible choice and action.We develop the skill to stay present and examine supportive conditions for good listening in the physical, emotional and mental realms.
Beyond the gift of listening we can take steps toward a fuller life by examining the place where we are meeting challenge and conflict. We discover that sustainable reconciliation is strengthened through the inclusion of marginalized voices, mutual support and right action at a place where perspectives come together.
Opening ourselves to humanizing the other is one step in the full listening process. Intentional Listening brings in additional steps introducing us to listening that includes accountability and the potential to respond to what we learn. This approach opens a door to listening through which we embrace mutual values and ethics, leading to support for all parties who may be caught in cycles of violence.
Through this we cultivate insight and skills that enable us to be more effective communicators, change-makers and healers. And most of all, we learn that the giving of listening with fullness to others offers an opportunity of unique significance for each of us.
“Intentional Listening skills practice supports the full expression of others, and beyond the listening as witness teaches us to how to take a clear and powerful stand for ourselves, without increasing polarization.”

OK, folks, is that clear?
Remember, in order to intentionally listen, you can’t just open your ears; you must open your heart, and listen to another person’s heart:

Letting Youth Have a Voice in a Silencing World
The concept of voice and all of its dimensions will be explored. The workshop will focus on the necessary principles and skills needed for the creation of safe voice space for youth. Examples of the primary themes to be addressed include the following:
Definitions of voice and voice space, i.e. verbal, non-verbal voice;
Seeing, feeling, and hearing what words can not express;
the role of art in giving voice;
Communication styles that hinder safe voice space;
Communication styles that allow for safe voice space;
Skills needed to hear what youth are really saying;
Skills needed to empower the voice of youth;Translating metaphor into the voice of the heart;
Skills for giving youth the gift of awareness of their own voice.
The above concepts will be thoroughly addressed within the context of a safe, trusting, engaging and respectful learning community.

Had enough yet?
The organization which has devoted itself to intentional communication is fanning out all over the country in a campaign to get teachers to show a documentary move called “Voices in Wartime.”
The film — which purports to be an “educational effort” replete with seminars and teacher training — actually originated with a group of anti-war activists who considered themselves snubbed by Laura Bush. (I suspect that the First Lady failed to intentionally communicate, failed to intentionally listen, and worst of all, failed to open her heart to provide the requisite “safe voice space.”)
What bothers me about all of this is that they’re marketing this antiwar film as unbiased. Of course, if you disagree with them, I’m sure they’d think it means you’re not listening.
I watched the film, and it failed utterly to convince me that war is always wrong, that war is never the answer, or that problems can be solved by “intentionally communicating.”
Query: didn’t Neville Chamberlain try intentionally communicating with Hitler? Didn’t he listen with his heart?
I think their fundamental mistake is in forgetting that most wars start not because of the mere presence of an aggressor, but because of a lack of preparedness for war. (As MacArthur said, “undefended wealth.”) Which means that if you aren’t capable of self defense, you’re a likely target for attack. (Hitler, of course, thought he could get away with it.)
As I say the above, I realize that this is my opinion, and even if it is shared by such modern figures as MacArthur as well as the ancients, that does not make it right.
Opinion is not fact, and I don’t offer my opinion as fact — no matter how much I might believe in it, or how much support it finds in history.
But the promoters of “Voices in Wartime” don’t seem to understand the difference between fact and opinion. Instead, they behave as if their view of war is some sort of inherent truth.
Perhaps they should try a little intentional listening to the other side, because a good argument can be made that they’re actually encouraging the very thing they claim to oppose.

  • Assume the intentional listeners persuade enough people to lay down their arms;
  • Assume further that the observations of MacArthur (and the ancients, and common sense) are right.
  • The bad guys — the aggressors — would then attack. Which means war would have been triggered by naive attempts to prevent it.