The independent news organization of Duke University

Pearl urges dialogue to tackle issues

Two monologues don't make a dialogue.

Journalist Mariane Pearl, wife of Daniel Pearl-the Wall Street Journal reporter killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002-encouraged embracing dialogue as a tool to combat violence and terrorism in a speech sponsored by the Baldwin Scholars.

"Dialogue [is] the way to embrace differences," Pearl said. "I'm just introducing this idea that dialogue is not a nice, cute thing. It's become more and more a survival [tool] for our planet."

Speaking in Page Auditorium Tuesday night, Pearl said she has made telling her story her life's mission, partly, she admits, out of revenge, but mostly to promote global cooperation. She believes her husband was taken captive because of who he was-American, Jewish, a journalist-and that by taking him, the terrorists hoped to spread fear.

"We should be able to claim the world as our own," she said. "There should be no places where you're afraid to go because you're American or Jewish."

Pearl talked about her career in journalism, which is how she met her husband. She said that one of the most important lessons she learned in her life happened while they were on assignment in India.

"I learned how to listen," Pearl said. "We did it together as a couple.... To constantly make the effort [to listen] was very trying, was very difficult, but I also remember it as one of the most beautiful times in my life.... You felt yourself grow intellectually and humanly."

After living in India, Pearl and her husband moved to Pakistan to cover the possible outbreak of war. Given the region's volatile situation, the Pearls called each other every two hours while working there. She said when Daniel did not return her calls on the afternoon of his disappearance, she knew something was wrong.

Pearl described the five-week-long search for her husband, telling about the people that helped her and how she immediately chose to fight the act of terrorism, rather than simply give up.

"[The team] was a microcosm that was the exact opposite of what the people who were holding Danny captive were trying to promote," she said, adding that there were Buddhists, Muslims, a Jew, a Hindu and a Christian, journalists and law-enforcement people all working together. "There were so many barriers, so many labels that separated us.... The trust wasn't there when I started, but I gathered everyone and I said we have to understand each other.... [We worked] in complete understanding of this case and the need to overcome our prejudices and fear of each other in order to fight."

At the end of the search, Pearl said police came to tell her about the video they had received of her husband's death. She said she ran outside and took one of the guns from the guards, and she realized how easy it would have been to kill people who had hurt her.

"It took a lot of courage to put that gun down and decide to stand for what [Daniel] stood for," she said.

Junior Neelima Navuluri, a Baldwin Scholar, said the program chose to bring Pearl to Duke because of her accomplishments, her ability to be a role model and the inspiring stories that she has to tell of herself and other women.

"I think she's an amazing speaker," Navuluri said. "I think it's amazing that she can take the tragedy and trauma [in her life] and turn it into a positive force.... I think a lot of the stories that she writes about how women can be very courageous and [can be] agents of change are very interesting and thought-provoking."

Through her work, Pearl encourages global dialogue, adding that it must come from individuals.

"It is as simple as making the effort to listen to the person in front of you," she said. "It's going to help you be less fearful of the world.... I came to understand that for [global dialogue] I need to know my neighbor first."

Through her own experiences and the myriad of people she has met with similar stories, Pearl said she has learned a lot about human nature.

"We have that evil in us, but we also have the antidote in us," Pearl said. "All we need is the courage to allow us to know the answers don't come from the outside."


Share and discuss “Pearl urges dialogue to tackle issues” on social media.