In our Religion: Peacebuilding in Multicultural Societies Course here at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) we examined five different kinds of interactions or dialogues with persons of different cultures or religions.
The first is the dialogue of life where people live as neighbors, primarily concerned with daily interactions, the joys and sorrows that are the ebb and flow of life. Next is the dialogue of action or it is sometimes called the dialogue of hands. Persons of different faiths work together toward a common goal perhaps addressing some kind of social problem. Buddhists and Christians building a house together at Habitat-for-Humanity would be one example. The third interaction is the dialogue of the religious experience where adherents actually experience each others rituals, worship or celebrations. Participation in others sacred spaces bring a deep appreciation and respect for the differences. The fourth type is among experts sometimes called the dialogue of the head. In this dialogue, “experts” interact round philosophy and theology of beliefs. As the only Mennonite in our class I was considered this authority because I could represent my particular brand of faith even though I am far from being a theologian.
When persons have dialogued long enough and respect for the other gains enough ground in the heart, then the fifth type of dialogue might occur, the dialogue of friendship and/or love. It is usually between two individuals who have developed the kind of friendship in which one would lay down the life for the other.
In our class this week we experienced, in some little way, all of these dialogues. Grouping diverse persons together for class tasks, caucusing people in their respective religious groups to present their faith and attending worshiping at a mosque were all part of this task. Through working closely together designing the an co-facilitating the course Alzad, and I made progress toward the fifth dialogue.
Hands Photo by Hai Arap