By Patrice Brodeur
For true dialogue to occur it needs to take place within a protective environment of mutually accepted rights and responsibilities, rooted in two fundamental values: respect for the human person and trust in the process of dialogue. Dialogue works best when the participants are willing to develop certain skills that facilitate the process.
Five people from five different religious traditions explore their relations at this United Religions Initiative gathering.
1. Each person has the right to define him/herself without being labeled by others
2. Each person has the right to express his or her beliefs, ideas and feelings
3. Each person has the right to ask questions that help him/her understand what someone else has said
4. Each person has the right not to change or be forced to change
5. Each person has the right to expect that what is said will be held in confidence
1. Each person must be willing to seriously question his/her assumptions about ‘the other’
2. Each person must allow the same right of self-expression that s/he expects for him/herself
3. Each person should ask questions that respect the other’s right of self-definition, even in times of conflict or disagreement
4. Each person must accept the others as equal partners in the dialogue, and acknowledge the dignity of the traditions represented
5. Each person must agree to hold what others say in confidence
1. Each person should be able to evaluate and articulate his/her own attitudes, values and positions on issues within the context of his/her tradition
2. Each person should learn how to be more sensitive to what the other is saying
3. Each person should learn how to respond to questions in ways that help others understand
4. Each person should learn to deal with different points of view while maintaining his/her own integrity
5. Each person should learn to deal with others from a position of mutual trust, based on an expectation that others come to the dialogue in a spirit of honesty and sincerity
Reprinted from “Description of the ‘Guidelines for Interfaith Celebrations,’” in Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 34, number 4 (Fall 1997), pp. 559-560. The chart was the result of several years of dialogue among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim seminarians in a program entitled Seminarians Interacting, sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice.