I was at an event today that was rather nice. We were a group of people all concerned about the on going ministry of Child Care Centres in New South Wales. Oh sure if push came to shove we would all have different views on what was best for the children, the parents, and the child care centres. But one thing that bound us all together was our common belief that we wanted to provide the best services for our local communities.
It was nice to be able to talk to people with a common goal today. But I know we only truly learn about things when we engage in a respectful debate with someone who holds a different point of view. A professor of mine taught me this. He invited to his house people who held different points of view on faith. During that evening he called on us to listen to all the different stories of the people who had gathered there. Then we were to share our stories with the group. At the end of the evening, I thought about what I had learned. One, I had heard the issues discussed from many different perspectives. I learned what others thought were important issues. But more importantly, I had come to understand what about my own faith was important to me. And I learned that respectful dialogue with those who were different made differences seem less important.
We live in a world where respectful dialogue seems to be a dying art. We have politicians who see differences amongst people as something that is to be feared. Anyone who disagrees with Donald Trump, he calls a loser. Peter Dutton wants to shut down the ABC because it has called into question his policies. Social media lets us live in a bubble where we are free to express our own ideas and where we can block posts from those who express views that are different than our own. News outlets are often too biased in favour of one political party over another.
I think great things have happened when we have entered into dialogue with one another. Advancement in human rights has occurred because people have engaged in discourse. Social change happened not just because someone had an idea but have taken place after difficult conversations. The denominations of the United Church of Canada or the Uniting Church in Australia were able to be formed because leaders from different denominations entered into meaningful dialogue with each other. None of these changes would have been possible if people talked to people who thought the same way. Change for the good occurs when people debate, revise, engage, challenge, argue, compromise, and grow into a new way of doing things. Blessings.