A Way to Think and Talk Together That Allows Our Collective Common Sense, Wisdom, and Potential to Flourish

A Culture of Peace, as defined by the United Nations, is living with a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations. To abolish war and violent conflicts we need to transcend and overcome differences with understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures. Learning from our diversity, through dialogue and the exchange of information, is an enriching process.

Yet, the concept of dialogue remains elusive and our ability to conduct it with skill can be a challenge. To provide some insight into this often misunderstood but desperately needed talent this page explores some of the elements that comprise dialogue. 

“Dialogue is a conversation in which people think together in relationship. Thinking together implies that you no longer take your own position as final. You relax your grip on certainty and listen to the possibilities that result simply from being in a relationship with others – possibilities that might not otherwise have occurred.

"Most of us believe at some level that we must fix things or change people in order to make them reachable. Dialogue does not call for such behavior. Rather, it asks us to listen for an already existing wholeness, and to create a new kind of association in which we listen deeply to all the views that people may express. It asks that we create a quality of listening and attention that can include — but is larger than — any single view.” 

—William Isaacs, author of Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together
"Dialogue is a situation in which two people enter in one state, and when they exit; they are changed because some of their ideas have been jolted, enriched, or repelled. That's really what education — and leadership — are all about." 
—Carlo Brumat, founding dean of the 
Duxx Graduate School of Business Leadership

 “Synchronicity is an external manifestation of an internal connectedness. It is a symptom of perceptual change that is rooted in the deep relatedness of all life. When we develop an awareness of the whole within which all parts and interrelationships sit, synchronous events become commonplace occurrences. While synchronous events are fascinating and useful, it is in the change in awareness, the focus on relatedness and the whole system that produces them, that the far-reaching value lies. Collaborative partnerships and shared leadership depend on the development of this focus. Dialogue encourages this shift of mind. In dialogue we listen for connections, for relationship. We release the need for any particular outcome and ask questions that seek a new and yet unseen level of understanding. We expand our listening to perceive connections and wavelengths that we might have previously filtered out.  It is no surprise that our awareness of and availability to synchronicity increases.” 

—Linda Ellinor and Glenna Gerard
authors of Dialogue: Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation

  “As we enhance our respect for the sanctity of life and human dignity through our daily behavior and steady efforts toward dialogue, the foundations for a culture of peace will deepen and strengthen, allowing a new global civilization to blossom. With women leading the way, when each and every person is aware and committed, we will be able to prevent society from relapsing into the culture of war, and foster and nurture energy toward the creation of a century of peace.” 

—Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International
Guidelines that can make interfaith dialogue valuable have much in common with those that lead to success in mediation. Leonard Swidler of Temple University in Philadelphia has written The Dialogue Decalogue: Ground Rules for Interreligious Dialogue. Here is an adaptation for secular peacebuilding contexts:
  • The primary purpose of dialogue is to change and grow in the perception and understanding of each other's reality and then to act accordingly.
  • Dialogue, to benefit the entire community, must ultimately be a project involving all perspectives.
  • Each participant must come to the dialogue with the fullest possible honesty and sincerity.
  • Each participant must assume a similar commitment to honesty and sincerity in the other partners.
  • Each participant must define him/herself.
  • Each participant must come to the dialogue with no hard-and-fast assumptions as to where the points of disagreement are.
  • Dialogue can take place only when each person's contribution is given equal value.
  • Dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust.
  • Persons entering into dialogue must be at least minimally willing to be critical of their own positions.
  • Each participant eventually must attempt to experience his/her partner-in-dialogue's perspective “from within."
  • Go to the following links to learn more about dialogue:
  • United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizationshttp://www.un.org/Dialogue/
  • UNESCO Celebrates the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations  — http://www.unesco.org/dialogue2001/
  • Global Dialogue Institutehttp://global-dialogue.com/ 
  • The Dialogue to Action Initiative http://thataway.org/dialogue/
  • How-to Resources" to Help You Get a Dialogue Started  — http://www.thataway.org/dialogue/res/res3.htm
  • Learn More About the Dialogue Movement & Process http://www.thataway.org/dialogue/res/res5.htm
  • Peace Through Dialogue: A Time to Talk Thoughts on a Culture of Peace, 2000 Peace Proposal by Daisaku Ikeda http://www.sgi.org/english/sgi_president/works/peace/peace00.htm

  • Write us at imagine_peace@att.net.