Yesterday I blogged enthusiastically and optimistically about recent encounters with groups of divergent opinions and views, who were able to develop understanding and acknowledgement of difference and seek out commonality.
In the second encounter, the main technique used in promoting dialogue was that of constructive conversation: allowing others to speak; not criticising or attempting to persuade; hanging on in there when we heard things we didn’t like; and if tempted to make assumptions, instead asking a question to check out the basis of the assumption we were making.
It seemed artificial at first. It was very difficult not to launch into debate and challenge, and instead pause and reformulate disagreement as questions. But it worked amazingly well, and I was left reflecting on how the world would be a much happier place if we were all to use more constructive conversation in our dealings with family, friends and the wider public.
And then yesterday through Twitter, I was pointed to a You Tube link which profoundly disturbed me, and made me realise how for some people, the idea of constructive dialogue is dangerously absent. The prejudice and intolerance shown in this video is chilling in the extreme. Watch it; no further comment is necessary from me.
I am more aware than ever of the need to participate in my multi-cultural inter-faith dialogues.