Dialogue is the Answer

Is it possible to talk to people when they threaten you physically?

Is it possible to listen to people whose belief system drastically differs from yours?

Is it possible to be unbiased when you believe that they don’t respect your ideas?

Answering the above questions is not easy, but we certainly can try; especially because it is the only way to understand the root causes of conflict. We may not agree with their explanations, but it is always better to hear their reasons for acting the way they do rather than us making up their reasons.

Let me give you an example of what may surface in a dialogue that may not have been understood otherwise.

Two families live side by side in a small town in the US.  They both have two children, and the children both go to the public school in the neighborhood.  Members of one family always leave their shoes outside when they enter their house and the other family does not.  Without a dialogue, one family may think that the reason for leaving one’s shoes outside is to prevent dirt or dust from getting into the house.  Another explanation may be that the family is very poor and doesn’t want to use their shoes unnecessarily inside so they would last longer.  Yet, another explanation may be that the family is very rich, and they want everyone to see how expensive their shoes are.

This is just one of many examples of where engaging in a dialogue can foster understanding. When there is a dialogue, the parties can understand their cultural differences and they become more understanding about others.