When Dialogue is NOT our Hope
By Joseph Phelps
This Article Summary written by: Mariya Yevsyukova, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: Phelps, Joseph. "When Dialogue is NOT our Hope." MCS Conciliation Quarterly. Spring 1996. P. 8.
Dialogue is not appropriate when:
1) Either side refuses to talk.
Continuation of the dialogue can only further damage the situation. However, there might be people on the other side who do not hold extreme views. Then there is an option of talking to them in the hope that they will convey your views to those who stand on extreme positions.
2) When the conversation is co-opted by persons in power.
When there is a dialogue between oppressor and oppressed, it might be just an attempt to create an illusion of caring about the needs of the powerless by those in power, without practical attempt to reverse the injustice.
3) When dialogue is being substituted for the work of counseling.
4) When the issue of justice is involved.
There cannot be dialogue with forces promoting injustice. Sometimes there is a need for nonviolent action. A good example is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Resistance gave more power to the oppressed. Creating a power balance allows for honest and constructive dialogue. Thus, conflict can be an indication for the necessity of change.