Dr. John Shibley
Department of Communication Studies
Armstrong Hall, Room 105
P.O. Box 6293
Morgantown, WV 26506
Office Phone: (304) 293-3905
Ordinarily, we think of communication as a means toward achieving a goal, and this is certainly an accurate way of viewing this process. After all in our everyday experiences, we strive to influence others through our communicative efforts. Moreover, there are billion dollar industries whose essential aim is to move us in their profitable directions; and, this, of course, they do by way of communication endeavors. Yet, there are moments when we as individuals enter into a relation with another and participate in genuine interaction for its own sake. I say “genuine” because the essential aim in such activity is the activity itself. I would argue that this sort of communication has no agenda other than to promote mutual humanity. What I mean by “mutual humanity” is this: In this regard, the genuine communication is an end, for there is no subjective or objective goal beyond the interaction.
This notion of genuine communication as an end is similar to Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of nonviolence in two respects. In the first instance, true communication is a bulwark against violence. As long as persons or nations remain in genuine symbolic interchange with each other, violence is prevented. In fact, it is when parties break off or refuse to engage in genuine communication that seeds of violence are planted. In a second respect, taking my cue from Gandhi, nonviolence was not only his essential means toward the resolution of conflict, it was, even more significantly, the end which he regarded as the true nature of all human relations. This, too, was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s conception of “The Beloved Community”. Neither the concept “community” nor “nonviolence” is meaningful without the practice of genuine communication.
So, for me, while I acknowledge the necessity of communicating as a means toward reaching objectives which we are obliged to achieve in our social and economic lives, the unique feature of our increasing understanding of genuine communication as an end is that it points us in the direction of our real possibilities.
Peace Studies, Film Studies, Mass Media
Ph.D., The Ohio State University