Spotlight: Digging Into Dialogue

Over the course of its 28-year history, the Ikeda Center has engaged steadily in dialogue to explore the many dimensions of local and global cultures of peace. From interreligious dialogue to investigations into such topics as restorative justice, mortality, and humanistic education to planning sessions for the Earth Charter, participants in Center events and book projects furthered the cause of human flourishing.

And while pursuits of these sorts continue unabated as we approach our 30th anniversary, over the last few years we also have engaged more directly in efforts to understand what dialogue truly is, the modes and dimensions of dialogue, and how best to practice it. The main impetus for this was the launching of the Dialogue Nights series in late 2017, which provided an ongoing laboratory for practicing dialogue and learning about best practices. The other early landmark was the publishing in 2018 of Peacebuilding Through Dialogue: Education, Human Transformation, and Conflict Resolution (George Mason University Press), edited by Peter N. Stearns. Then, in 2020, we created a special Themes section devoted to Dialogue, where you can directly link to most of our key dialogue-related resources. We think you will find much here that will grow your understanding.

Of all the resources we have been developing on dialogue, perhaps none are so concise and illuminating as the four Ikeda Center Dialogue Commitments, which the Dialogue Nights team developed early on to help guide participants toward successful conversations. Each commitment is accompanied by a relevant quote from Daisaku Ikeda. Enjoy!

1. Avoid pre-judging and categorizing people

"We need to be aware of the danger of cateforizing people into such simplistic binaries as good and bad, us and them, and friend and foe. Such an approach is one of the deep drivers of conflict."

2. Strive to bring out the best in oneself and others.

"These vibrant sessions [of dialogue] develop as participants give voice to the calls that issue freely from their lives, mutually respecting each other and bringing forth the best that each possesses."

3. Listen and learn from each other.

"Elise Boulding reminded us that the creation of a culture of peace begins from our own effort to listen to others; that when we lend our ears to opposing opinions, this can bring to light the hidden essence of things, enabling us to grasp the core aspect of an issue."

4. Remember that change begins with us.

"Dialogue is a choice requiring genuine courage and strength. It is the ultimate constructive undertaking of the human spirit. And it is for this reason that conflict resolution through dialogue holds the promise of a genuine and lasting solution."

[Posted by M. Bogen: July 16, 2021]





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