In times of extreme divisiveness it is often difficult to find common ground between ourselves and those with disparate opinions. The passion that drives us forward can sometimes prevent us from listening to others and creating new understanding. Rather than engage in heated debates that create an Us vs. Them mentality, IJPC encourages the dialogue process that allows people with different views to listen to one another and find mutual understanding. William Isaacs, author of “Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together” describes how he views dialogue:
“Dialogue, as I define it, is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channeling it towards something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into a greater common sense, and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power of groups of people.”
For over ten years IJPC has been organizing dialogue programming that balances the need to advocate for peace and justice with inquiry and understanding through the process of reflective listening. The end goal of this practice is not change anyone’s mind or for there to be a winner and loser. Instead, the hope is to provide a shared experience in which individuals from different perspectives can learn from another and explore new ideas. When we enter the conversation acknowledging that some of our own assumptions may be wrong, we are able to understand one another better and engage in a new level of critical thinking. This can lead to new creative solutions that otherwise remain undiscovered.
With the recent election in mind, as well as many contentious issues polarizing our country, IJPC wants to encourage dialogue as a means of understanding. There are many concerns that are dear to our hearts right now, whether it’s protecting the sanctity of live for death row inmates, immigration policy, foreign policy and warfare, or something else entirely. As we strive to create a more just society, we find the best solutions come when we hear from a diverse set of voices. We will be holding a Dialogue Facilitator Training session on Wednesday, January 18th from 6:00pm to 8:30pm. We hope that with more people educated in the process of dialogue we can create a community that is more understanding and empathetic towards one another and our unique experiences.
If you are interested in attending, email andrea@IJPCcincinnati.org