Max Norman is the main blogger of Ask The Kid, where he provides answers to life’s queries from the perspective of a young person. We are pleased to bring you a guest post by him today:
Being a Diplomat in a Multicultural World
We no longer live in a world of nations and governments; we live in a world of sects and movements, religions and cultures. As you already know, these differences have lead to great conflict and senseless hate. As the next generation, we must embrace this world, for it can not be changed. We need to learn the art of diplomacy in a new fashion, for a new world. It is up to us to re sow the seeds of peace and well being, of enlightenment and education, because the world will fall apart without peace; people will keep fighting until the end. If you practice diplomacy, you will set yourself apart, gain respect and help make the world a more peaceful place.
These skills aren’t something you can learn in school. They must be tried, tested and refined in the real world with real people. The family unit is a fairly apt forum to practice the majority of your diplomacy abilities, although the broader skills must be engaged with other, different people. To start off, you must learn how to communicate your thoughts effectively–this is usually what starts conflicts. Speak, write or illustrate ideas in a simple manner in a common language, and spend all the necessary time to get your point across. Staying persistent reaffirms confidence in relationships, because it shows that you are patient and willing to accept differences; this makes a good impression. It is VERY important to make a good first impression, but remember that with each culture, virtues change. Do research to explore the manners and courtesy of the person’s/organization’s culture.
Understanding motivations is a key tool for solving problems and creating new relationships, even if the motivation is foreign and seems unfounded. Everyone is driven by passion, which can be used to sway their feelings; if one can tap their driving force and aim it in a new direction, your goal is achieved. This must be done using rhetorical skills and demonstrations persistently to convince them of the right way to go. For example, if a criminal is shown the consequences of crime, then shown how much better life is preventing crime, many times they will migrate away from illegality. If not, a stern action–like an arrest–can set them on the road to enlightenment. This applies directly to conflict: if you show the trouble makers why they are wrong, provide a solution and foster change, people might just change their minds, which even in small increments advances your cause. Motivation never goes away; it just shifts in a new direction.
In our world today, a lot of violence is fueled by heritage. In Iraq, the Sunnis are fighting the Shiites because once very long ago, one of the sects–it is not known which–murdered a relative of Mohammed, the creator of Islam. The terrorists who kill themselves for these causes were told to do so from a very young age, which is important to keep in mind. This same pattern occurs is most religious wars, and must be taken into account when negotiating and appeasing members of these parties. One must at least appear independent of both sides, and talk as equals to find out what is causing this violence. From there, steps can be made to appease warring factions.
The quest for peace is as old as humankind. Until recently, diplomacy was on the national level with governments and rulers, but it has now shifted to sects, organizations and cultures—all different. To negotiate for peace, you need to be able to communicate your solutions effectively, and always understand that determination is not superficial: much conflict is brought about by deeply rooted emotional factors such as religion and history. Practice these skills; use them at home and at school, for you will be the ones using them in the future. Even in the best of times, conflict will not be completely vanquished, but diplomacy can work on issues bit by bit, every one bringing you closer to peace.
If you’d like to contribute a guest post for EducateDeviate, feel free to contact me with your ideas. I’m particularly looking for contributions from young people on topics that interest them.