Thursday, April 8, 2010

Schematics for Peace: Diodes

A diode is a passive device that allows current to flow only one way. Based on semiconductor material, variations of these devices make it possible to convert AC to DC, make digital logic matrices, generate light (as in LED-light emitting diode), maintain a constant voltage and even were the basis for the invention of radio. In fact, one can make a simple radio today out of one diode, a very long antenna and a high impedance set of headphones. No power needed.

I once put a diode in my experimental circuit and no current flowed because I had it in backwards. This reminds me of the nature of communications on contentious community issues that have a direct bearing on peace.

Communications is like the current in a wire that flows between people (components in our circuit analogy). The more people are connected through dialogue the stronger the capacity for peace. If you put the diode of one-way thinking and by extension a one way-flow of communication, in the community circuit these capacities are diminished. It is critical for community peace capacities that civic and religious leaders open themselves to listening not just making statements about where they stand on issues, shouting proclamations or issuing edicts. One-way communications flow polarizes people and will eventually dissolve cohesiveness.

For an outside peace advocate who demands to be heard before there has been reciprocity in the two-way flow of conversation, trust is usually not forthcoming. In this case the "diode" should be set to allow the advocate to listen and not speak. Once trust is established and the right to speak has been won, the "diode" can be removed.

Diodes are useful devices but put in the wrong way at the wrong time or place can cause trouble.

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