The first time I was introduced to that word was about 11 years ago. I used to play a lot of computer games back then, I still do, and the Age of Empires was one of my favorites. It was about two or more kingdoms on a piece of land going on conquest and it’s players had the option to be diplomatic by paying/receiving a fixed tribute.
You could either be allied, non – allied or enemies. I didn’t understand what the word ‘diplomacy’ meant. Over the period of me playing the game, I understood that diplomacy is like relationships, where allied meant friends and non-allied meant neither a friend nor an enemy.
How wrong I was in understanding diplomacy!
Overtime, by reading history and following politics, I understood that diplomacy is very important in today’s world. I learnt how diplomacy works and how it is actually different from friendship. Friendship to me is an unconditional relationship whereas I understood that in diplomacy neither of the countries do anything without getting something in return. Back then, diplomacy was not an easy concept like relationship, sometimes it got so confusing primarily due to the involvement of more that two countries. For example – let’s discuss the relationship of China, India and Srilanka. Srilanka is a small island nation thousands of kilometers away from China. It has very little to offer to China. On the other hand Srilanka can be seen from the southern most tip of India. Srilanka and India share waters where fishermen from both countries fish , there is so much of cultural commonality and historical bond between these two countries. With this view point it looks so clear. But, this is where diplomacy kicks in. China and India are countries whose diplomatic stance always swings from between allied and non-allied to between non-allied and enemies. So China favours Srilanka, not because China has something to gain out of it but because India has something to lose. It’s a strategic gain for China.
All the foreign policy was imposing enough and although I knew that diplomacy somehow affected our lives, it seemed so distant.
As sad as it is, I recently discovered that diplomacy was a big part of human lives too. Knowingly or unknowingly so many of my own friends were very good diplomats. The well-read guy on my contacts who knew it well, told me that diplomacy is very important in the society today and that I would lose all my friends if I am not diplomatic.
To me, he is still a friend. A good one too, and I hope I am his friend too.
The hypocrisy that I see in myself where I call my friendship unconditional and yet hope that I am getting friendship in return for my friendship is something that I could happily live with.
At this juncture, diplomacy doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea.
I liked it much better when diplomacy was limited to ‘The Age of Empires’.