Have you ever met someone that seems to feel that they are always right? Have you ever come across an individual, that no matter how much proof you have on a topic, will not except even the chance to critically think about it? When someone believes they are right and are forcing their opinions on everyone around them, it can become intellectual bullying. These individuals unfortunately stop dialogue. But worse still, these people feel attacked. Is it possible to want to believe something so much, that we will protect ourselves against any thought that could change what we have come to believe?
This is all too often true with intercultural, and inter-religious dialogue. We have built our identities not on who we were created to be, but on what we think and believe about things. But it doesn’t take many years to recognize ones journey of learning. It won’t take a lifetime to find out that when we learn a new thing, it means that the old things can sometimes not be fully right, and maybe even wrong.
When we dialogue, we must submit to the reality that other people are equal to us. But it is in our own fear, that we won’t submit, fearing most of all that we don’t truly know who we are. Does a fortress need to fear? No, because it has a proper view of who it is. But we fear, when we are not convinced about what we believe, or who we are. But love submits. There is no fear in love.
Dialogue is a way to submit to others. Dialogue allows us to learn from lives spent living and growing. Dialogue does not demand that we believe everything we hear, but it gives everyone an opportunity to be heard. It gives people’s lives a validity of being human and worth being lived. Arguing isn’t strong, dialogue is.