People have communication failures all the time. This is often the main source of conflicting arguments between individuals and groups of people. As Rogers explains it, the inability of a person to emphatically listen to others who have contradicting viewpoints creates unnecessary friction.
Applying Rogers communication model to my research question brings up an interesting question. Could impartial communication be the root cause of the social conflicts between the white apartheid government and the black, colored, and Indian populations throughout South Africa? After all, it is clear that there were those who were against apartheid, for it, or perhaps had no opinion about it. To better explain my point, I am going to over simplify the decades long struggle. Imagine the three sides all sitting around a table in the shape of South Africa staring intensely at each other. The one side who is against apartheid is majority black, colored, and Indian with some white people mixed in. The side supporting apartheid is- safe to assume- white. Meanwhile, the side who is neutral could be majority white with some blacks, coloreds, and Indians who wished to stay out of trouble. As they debate what is right and what is wrong, to two opposite sides are clearly not listening to understand each other, while the neutral side is understanding both perspectives but did not feel passionate enough to control the situation. As a result, the apartheid government supporters gain control by yelling the loudest and flipping the table, leaving the anti-apartheid group suppressed under the pressure of the table.
A meeting such as the one above could have been avoided by empathetic listening and third-party interventions from the neutral side. Nonetheless, even though apartheid was banned, South Africa continues to struggle with racism and corrupt authorities. Modern day conservations about free education and keeping Afrikaans monuments suffer from communication blocks. Where President Zuma cannot follow through on a budget model and student activist do not fully understand how to develop a practical model for free education. If both sides would take the time to feel, see, and understand how the other interprets the situation on free education, then perhaps the country would see results sooner.
Throughout this experience, I have kept an open mind and was never quick to evaluate the lifestyles of those within South Africa. Before I asked questions, I listened intently to gather the individual’s full perspective. However, I found that often times I did not have too many questions to ask because I was trying to process their story enough to understand their perspective. I despise asking pointless questions to take up time and pointless questions tend to deviate the conversation away from the purpose.