Sunday, April 08, 2007
The concluding installment of Patricia's Peace Talk:
So what is the difference between "dialogue" and "debate"?
I see dialogue as an attempt to understand how another person sees things. Listening is its core component.
Debate is an attempt to talk the other into seeing things like I see them. Marshalling one’s thoughts and expressing them effectively are the tools of a debater.
And why do I use the word "nonviolent" to describe the kind of dialogue in which I engaged during those 18 days?
Because I consciously did my best to meet hatred and negativity with respect and love, in a way modeled by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These are my principles of nonviolent dialogue:
1. State your point of view in a respectful way;
2. Let the other speak;
3. Listen to what they say, even if it is said with hostility;
4. Find and express that upon which you can both agree;
5. Try to understand where the other is coming from;
6. Respond, even to hatred, with love but do not tolerate verbal abuse. Such abuse escalates the cycle of violence;
7. Stop when the dialogue is no longer productive;
8. Conclude with respectful acknowledgement of your commonalities and wish them well.
Dialogue is more about understanding the other than changing their minds.
Of course it’s ideal if both participants are trying to enter into nonviolent dialogue, but even one nonviolent dialoguer can change the tone of the encounter.
Perhaps the change you make is not in what they think about an issue, but in how they will express themselves in the future.
The quality of your presence is more important than the content of your conversation.
You do not need to change minds in order to change hearts, your own first of all.
Consciously engaging in nonviolent dialogue is transformative. You will be changed in ways you cannot imagine, the most notable being the growth of compassion. If you listen deeply to what is being said, you’ll see that how individuals view the world makes perfect sense, given their life experiences. The same is true of yourself.
Nonviolent dialogue requires that one be prepared to set aside long-held assumptions, prejudices, and paradigms. Like looking through a prism, you will begin to see the world through a different facet. And, judging from my own personal experience, it will not look as you expected.