October 3, 2012

I wrote a comment to Maureen Dowd’s column this morning raising the issue of the consequences of responding to the death of an ambassador by turning diplomacy into something else.  (It’s comment #11.)

I have no idea how helpful it is, either as a practical matter for action (I doubt it) or for directing other people’s attention to a bigger picture (perhaps just thinking about another perspective even briefly has some helpful impact).

But it’s what I see.

I think of myself as a member of the proverbial peanut gallery who also has some of the skills and training of the prime performers, which allows me to sort of communicate with them.  I also have developed skills they haven’t developed, and that’s where I see my contribution.  Those skills allow me to see things from a perspective many participants closer to the action don’t.  I don’t think it’s just distance, I think the way I have been living my life has allowed me to perceive things in a way that is not that common (nor is it unique), with a certain depth and independence from unhelpful assumptions that people more caught up in other concerns may have.

I criticized a particular way of practicing punditry yesterday (the kind that wants its ideas and scripts to be closely adopted by political actors, in part for less than selfless reasons).  I don’t claim that what I do comes closer to the ideal of what I think actual pundits should do, but it is an approach or technique that might be helpful for providing leaders and the public with possibilities.

Sometimes I trouble myself about the communication part of what I do, whether it needs amplification or connection to others, some kind of collaboration, or improvement as a free-standing enterprise.  My focus has been on just trying to figure out what I’m seeing and to translate that into language that is understandable to other people.  I have felt called to do something else with it in the past, but that didn’t pan out — others didn’t see it the way I did and the way I thought they were saying they did.

The universe incorporates whatever dance steps we can muster into the larger performance, so I’m not worried.  My own personal reaction to this version of the dance can be worked out on my own time.


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