12: WHY DIALOG?
Welcome to the 12th post in our Journey in Dialog. In this post and again in #24 and #36, we will seek to respond to the question, “Why Dialog?” In Post 01, we began with the end in mind by listing nine answers to this question. As we continue this journey, we will find additional answers and nuances worth our attention.
The answers that follow are from David Bohm, Donald Factor, and Peter Garrett’s Notes on Dialogue. They affirm that, “Dialogue is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behavior, and how unnoticed cultural differences can clash without our realizing what is occurring. It can therefore be seen as an arena in which collective learning takes place and out of which a sense of increased harmony, fellowship, and creativity can arise.”
They observe that, “If we look carefully at what we generally take to be reality, we begin to see that it includes a collection of concepts, memories, and reflexes colored by our personal needs, fears, and desires, all of which are limited and distorted by the boundaries of language and the habits of our history, sex, and culture.
“It is extremely difficult to disassemble this mixture or to ever be certain whether what we are perceiving or what we may think about those perceptions is at all accurate. We need a means by which we can slow down the process of thought in order to be able to observe it while it occurs. … Dialogue is concerned with providing a space within which such attention can be given.
“Participants find that they are involved in an ever changing and developing pool of common meaning. A shared content of consciousness emerges which allows a level of creativity and insight that is not generally available to individuals or to groups that interact in more familiar ways.
“If you are able to give attention to, say, the strong feelings that might accompany the expression of a particular thought – either your own or another’s – and to sustain that attention, the activity of the thought process will tend to slow you down. This may permit you to begin to see the deeper meanings underlying your thought process and to sense the often-incoherent structure of any action that you might otherwise carry out automatically.
“Similarly, if a group is able to suspend such feelings and give its attention to them, then the overall process that flows from thought, to feeling, to acting-out within the group can also slow down and reveal its deeper, more subtle meanings along with any of its implicit distortions, leading to what might be described as a new kind of coherent, collective intelligence.
“The spirit of Dialogue is one of free play, a sort of collective dance of the mind that, nevertheless, has immense power and reveals coherent purpose. Once begun it becomes a continuing adventure that can open the way to significant and creative change.”
© 2018 The Living Dialog™ Ministries