Conference Makes You Everready
Has conference become a newfound favorite in the realm of academia as it largely seems to be? Is its gleam slowly and steadily turning unspeakably somber? Has the term conference got a new connotation of late? How many of us are still reminded of the iconic line of Francis Bacon to reflect upon? Let’s reflect on conference with special reference to Bacon’s type.
Acquire Admirable Qualities
The worldly wise, shrewd, urbane, sententious Bacon sums up in the sentence “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man; and writing an exact man,” with a finality of an aphorism how a person can acquire ‘readiness’ by participating in conference. Conference implies a meeting together of people with a view to examining all the pros and cons of an argument putting the whole issue in its proper perspective. Habitual participation in conferences of this kind (suggests Francis Bacon) makes a person ready-witted. You acquire the quality of quickness of mind, of unerring precision in reaching the heart of a matter, and unraveling the essential from the tangled mass of what are irrelevant and unnecessary. Conferences help you to acquire these admirable virtues better than any other method.
The reason, of course, is more or less obvious. You are usually befogged by your own prejudices or bewildered by the arguments of others. But at the conference table, mind clashes with mind and it helps strike the spark of truth. Vague, ambiguous or inaccurate statements are immediately challenged and subjected to scrutiny. You may go to a conference with your minds made up one way or the other, but you cannot take your stand on obstinate assertions, abject dogmatism. You have to overcome opposition by precise and rational arguments. This clash of intellects is a great sharpener of reason. By constant use of intellect acquires brilliance, and reason a razor-like edge. Practice gives skill, and all opinions, prejudices, and preconceived notions are adequately tested. The mind becomes resilient and springs to the attack with as much vigour as it recoils in defence.
Experience at- the conference table makes you ready-witted; you are far more alert and quick in judgment, you are prompt in driving an advantage home or covering up a weakness.
An Ambience of Sweetness
But these salutary ends can be attained only under certain conditions. There is such a thing as a conference spirit. A true conference is one in which members come with open minds,—ready not only to convince others but to be -convinced themselves if need be. There must be an atmosphere of sweet reasonableness. Each member must be as willing to listen as to speak. While you must have the strength of yours, convictions, you must equally have the honesty to confess your errors. If you detect a point that favours you, is surely justified in putting it forward with all the vigour at your command. But that does not mean that even though vanquished you must argue still. To yield gracefully is a virtue as much to be cultivated, as to argue forcefully is an art to be acquired.
Conference That Is No Conference
Unfortunately, most conferences degenerate into unseemly wrangles. People are too much enamoured of their own points of view to have the patience to listen to others, far less to see the other’s standpoint. Tempers are lost; motives are imputed; charges and counter charges are flung across the table certainly conduce to ‘make a ready man’ in Bacon’s meaning of the term. On the contrary the help to cloud the issue, and rather than be open-minded enough to admit the truth, the truth is buried under a mass of untruths or half-truth. These, of course, are conferences that are no conferences, and they fall outside the purview of Bacon’s meaning.
The conference table is the altar of democracy. For in democracy there must be no imposition of authority, no assertion of will. Policies have to be formulated; principles have to emerge out of discussions; plans must be devised after detailed consultation. But where this democratic principle is thwarted by the arbitrary; practice of merely asserting opposite view-points, it is a negation of the conference spirit, for each party moves within its narrow sphere, and refuses to be lifted there from. That is why Parliaments and Legislatures are not conferences in the true meaning of the term; they do not create the readiness of mind praised by Bacon.
True Spirit of Conference
Fortunately, in modern times, conference is coming into its own more and more. There are all sorts of conferences -heads of States and Prime Ministers who meet on a ‘summit level’ of discussion, of plenipotentiaries unraveling the tangles of international policies. There are conferences of officials and non-officials; of educationists and businessmen; of journalists and scientists. And everywhere, you bred in the true conference spirit is at an advantage. For you to come with a flexible mind—a mind as ready to teach others as to learn yourself. Such people are invaluable, for with their mental equipment, they have the readiness to realise both one’s strong as well as one’s weak points.
Written By :- Dr SK Bose, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Manav Rachna University