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Truth of intercourse



Robert Louis Stevenson, author of "Truth of Intercourse" among other works.

Robert Louis Stevenson was a profound essayist as well as a fabulous novelist. In his essay “Truth of Intercourse,” the author of Treasure Island refers to a passage which Henry Thoreau deemed the noblest and most useful he had read in any modern author, namely, this: “Two to speak truth–one to speak and another to hear.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of "Truth of Intercourse" among other works.

Robert Louis Stevenson. Photo by Lloyd Osborne, 1870.

Why is truth so difficult to hear?

Stevenson elaborates: “He must be very experienced, or have a great zeal for truth who does not recognize the fact [stated by Thoreau]. A grain of anger or a grain of suspicion produces strange acoustical effects and makes the ear greedy to remark offense. Hence we find those who once quarreled carry themselves distantly and are ever ready the break the truce.  [Moreover, for two] to speak truth there must be moral equality or else no respect …”

I invite my readers to juxtapose Stevenson’s remarks in “Truth of Intercourse” with the intercourse or negotiation that has taken place during the past twenty years between one or another Prime Minister of Israel on the one hand, and the Arab-Muslim leaders of the PLO-Palestinian Authority, on the other, specifically, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

My question is this: Are the aforementioned remarks of Henry Thoreau and Robert Louis Stevenson beyond the intellectual capacity and moral standards or sensitivity of Israeli Prime Ministers?☼

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