By Joe Campbell
May 18th, 2009
Warning: This is going to sound a bit corny – but that should be considered part of it’s charm.
It is the responsibility of every citizen of the world to reach out to those others in the world who they do not understand. For example, it is their responsibility to reach out to people on the side of a conflict they do not understand. It is a responsibility to inform one’s self and to express one’s self in these situations.
This is especially true for Americans – as our government’s policies affect so much of the world – yet it often seems Americans know so little about what people around the world think.
It is the responsibility of everyone who thinks that the mainstream media is not conveying the truth about a situation to reach out themselves to try to figure out some portion of the truth they seek.
This was always one’s responsibility – but in a previous age, it was difficult and time-consuming – often impossible. Today – this can be done so easily there is no excuse.
It is unlikely that any individual reaching out in this way will make a difference – but the collective impact would revolutionize politics and foreign policy. The cumulative effect would be to remove foreign policy from the elites – who travel the world and make such contacts as can be generally approximated now via the web. There is a definite place for such people – but it is never healthy when first-hand knowledge is so concentrated. Which is why we must enter an age of Facebook Diplomacy to create a better world. This type of outreach seems to be a logical outgrowth of the internet – and perhaps of the Obama campaign’s use of the internet to shape the political landscape.
I propose a few principles to guide this Facebook Diplomacy:
1. Be humble. Listen. Be curious. (It’s amazing how grateful people are to be heard.)
2. Always look to the other side – and try to understand without demonizing.
3. Honestly represent your views – being careful not to give the impression you agree when you do not.
4. Do not expect anyone to speak on behalf of their nation.