WIN attends Interfaith Week Breakfast at City Hall, chaired by Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, Debbie Weekes Bernard
This Interfaith Week 2022 our WIN team has been busy attending meetings with other faith groups all around the city, from local schools to city hall, talking about the issues facing our communities and how we can work together for meaningful change as well as supporting our members.
For our own Interfaith Week event, we held an online discussion on Interfaith and Difficult Dialogues, looking at how we can have productive and honest conversations about the issues that matter, in an increasingly polarised world.
Kelly Maxwell from the Difficult Dialogues Resource Center describes dialogue as ‘listening and building empathy for experiences that may be very different from one’s own, and really then seeking to understand where that perspective comes from.‘ Dialogue is an intentional space we create, not something that appears organically or by accident, and requires all participants to commit to certain ‘rules of engagement’ to ensure everyone can feel confident that they will be heard.
We also have to be careful not to become too invested in specific outcomes, but to treat dialogue as an end in itself. As former archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams puts it, ‘the conversation of interfaith dialogue is always one where we look eagerly and expectantly for enrichment. We’re not playing for victory, we’re seeking understanding from one another… by learning the depth of one another’s commitment and vision – dialogue and depth is what we all hope for.’
Our attendees discussed some of the challenges they had found discussing sensitive issues in their communities, well as sharing best practice and possible ways forward. We all observed the role of humour in facilitating dialogue and putting participants at ease, as well as how creating together – whether sharing music, storytelling or cooking a meal – can create an atmosphere where people are more open to different perspectives, as well as taking the confrontation out of the conversation.
Here at WIN we will continue to celebrate the power of dialogue in changing how we see the world, and are committed to facing up to the difficult conversations that stand in the way of real change.
- Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center. Strategies For Current Challenges In Dialogue Facilitation. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ddnrc/pages/20/attachments/original/1603824545/Strategies_for_Dialogue__%285%29.pdf?1603824545
- Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center. Guidelines for Dialogue. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ddnrc/pages/20/attachments/original/1603824545/Strategies_for_Dialogue__%285%29.pdf?1603824545
- The Inter Faith Network for the UK. (2015). ‘Tough to Talk?’: Report on the 2014 National Meetinghttps://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/IFN_National_Meeting_Report_2014.pdf
- Koenig, R. (2020, February 18). How ‘Dialogue’ Can Create Empathy in a Divided Classroom. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-02-18-how-dialogue-can-create-empathy-in-a-divided-classroom