As part of my professional triage I will dispense with the natural, accidental and intentional antecedents for each Friday. Starting next week I will just launch the post.
Bill Cumming — the originator of the Friday Free Forum — has suggested making some regular place for homeland security book reviews. It seems to me Friday comments would be a good place. A three sentence introduction, a positive or negative personal judgment, and a link to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the publisher would be great.
Over the last ten days I have had several meetings where regular readers of HLSWatch have introduced themselves. All claimed to value the blog. Even more impressive, each quoted from memory the principal themes of recent posts by Chris, Arnold or me.
Even for our less-than-mass-market readership, I did not hear from a statistically significant sample. But I noticed when roughly four out of five also referenced a real regret that conversations were so seldom able to get going.
The whole field of homeland security missed an opportunity when earlier this year an effort here to host a meaningful discussion of the QHSR failed. People were listening. We did not advance the conversation.
So as I prepare to recede a bit over the next few weeks, I will offer:
- Every post benefits from thoughtful questions
- Every post benefits from real-world stories that confirm or challenge the post
- Most comments benefit from being read and questioned or challenged or reconfirmed
- Self-restraint, as in staying on topic and hoping for the good faith of another, is an attractive and constructive habit
- Conversations unfold when a thought is heard, meaning is confirmed (not yet challenged), alternatives are politely offered, alternatives are heard and confirmed… you know the method.
In my experience real conversation requires real vulnerability. To further explicate, below is a poem.
The backstory for this poem is relevant. Last March I facilitated a multi-jurisdictional, private-public homeland security exercise. This was the culminating event for a process that had been underway for over a year. One of the public sector participants was inserted at the last minute. For almost everyone else this was the third (or more) event in a series. We had already dispensed with a lot of dogma. She arrived still believing in some federal processes that the private sector had previously persuaded the public sector participants were time-sinking dysfunctions. I shut her down much too quickly and with a tone that was much too harsh.
Writing this poem was part penitence, part personal AAR.
Words rush forth untethered
Inflating this space between us
Where quiet might have
condensed our difference
But also fully tangible
A warm body
Yet syncopated rhythms
Rising to the same coda
Words can distance with
Anger disgust or fear
Before I say anything
May I hear see touch
Taste feel the reality
Of you, the adventure
Of being here with you
Then may I choose
Words you will hear
As sure evidence
You have been heard
Words that even in
Listen with love