Nov 19, 2009, 1:59 PM
The reality today is that we are all inter-dependent, and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.
This is what democracy calls for. Dialogue provides shared meaning and empowers people. The whole purpose of democracy is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man.
Many of the conflicts in our lives and in the world are caused by misunderstandings.
Sometimes we jump to conclusions about why others do things. Sometimes we don't understand the cultures of others. Poor communication makes the conflict worse.
Real dialogue can often lead to understanding, helping communities to get along much better.
"If we look back at the development in the 20th century, the most devastating cause of human suffering, of deprivation of human dignity, freedom and peace, has been the culture of violence in resolving differences and conflicts. In some ways, our century could be called the century of war and bloodshed. The challenge before us, therefore, is to make the next century a century of dialogue and non-violence conflict resolution. In human societies there will always be differences of views and interests" - the Dalai Lama, on March 1997, 38th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day.
Some of the areas where dialogue can make a difference include: help avert violent conflict; address environmental concerns; assist in conflict resolution and can also facilitate recovery from crisis.
Dialogue paves the way for greater communication and builds trust between two feuding sides.
As the climate change talks demonstrate, dialogue brings together a diverse set of voices to create a microcosm of the larger society.
To bring about sustainable change, people have to develop a sense of joint ownership of the process, and become stakeholders in identifying new approaches to address common challenges.
Without mutual knowledge, there can be no mutual understanding; without understanding, there can be no trust and respect; without trust, there can be no peace, only the danger of conflict.
Dialogue gives one the opportunity to share one?s opinions and experiences. It gives one a chance to improve oneself by listening and learning from other people.
"We come to know ourselves, then, through coming to know each other. And the deeper that knowledge, the richer and more creative the world we build together" - Danny Martin, Director of ICRE (International Communities for the Renewal of the Earth).