News Release Archive

The Commonwealth Day theme this year is "Talking to One Another".
It is a fitting choice, because 1997 is a year when more people
than ever before in the Commonwealth will have an opportunity to
communicate with each other.

Modern travel has made it easy to meet and talk face-to-face.
Many from throughout the Commonwealth will take advantage of this
in 1997 for sports tours, youth exchanges, science conventions,
and other gatherings. Here in Britain, for instance, the city of
Edinburgh will be host to the biennial Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting later this year. At the same time,
Commonwealth non-governmental organisations will be meeting
there. So Commonwealth people will be getting together at all
levels to exchange ideas.

But improved and easier travel is only one development. Recent
advances in communications technology now enable us to talk to
each other and to see each other without even needing to leave
home. The Commonwealth uses this sort of technology for its
distance education programme, especially through the Commonwealth
of Learning based in Vancouver. Through communications like
these, the barriers of distance can be removed and we can talk
together, almost as if the whole Commonwealth was in one room.
Many years ago, my grandfather first spoke to the Commonwealth by
radio. Today my message is speeding its way around the world by
radio and, for the first time, on the Internet.

Of course, having more ways of communicating and faster ways of
doing so does not necessarily mean that we understand each other
better. Technical advances do not automatically bring
improvements. "Talking to One Another" is not a one-way process:
we can explain our own points of view but we should also listen
to the views of others. Commonwealth countries have an advantage
in doing this because we have shared views of right and wrong,
and because we use the common language of English. This makes it
all the easier to listen, to exchange knowledge, and to share
opinions and feelings with others whose daily lives may be very
different from our own.

When we talk to one another, we can meet together in one place or
we can use technology to hold discussions across the world.
Whichever way we choose to communicate, the important point is
that we keep talking and keep listening. By doing so, we ensure
that the Commonwealth continues to grow as an informed and
open-minded community of nations.


trp                      Mar. 10, 1997 - 1:35 p.m.