Ministries

Eleventh Reflection

Dialogue as the basis of constructive interaction

The other is different, different from me, from us. This is exactly what easily causes problems. What is true for God--the complete other--is similarly true for many things: something that, on one hand, fascinates me; on the other hand, also challenges and questions me. Suddenly, one is confronted with an alternative. A rivalry develops very quickly. Maybe, the world of the other is better, or “more correct”. In this case, my familiar world would be bad and wrong, or, maybe, is everything indifferent? Who then is to decide what is good and right? Are there different truthsor maybe none at all?

What is true for our everyday life is also true, especially regarding dialogue amongst religions. The other, especially in its fascination, makes us insecure and threatens us. It creates fear. My world is simpler if there is no other, when I am alone and decide alone, when I remain amongst my own. This can be achieved in two ways: I can get the other out of the way, or simply deny it by saying: “We are all the same! We all seek the same, just in different ways.” Life, however, means accepting our differences, our diversity, and remaining in dialogue with each other. Because (interreligious) dialogue is a necessary requirement for peace in the world, it is a responsibility for Christians as well as for other religious groups --and indeed for all people of good will. This requires some basic attitudes:

  • an attitude of openness in truth and love,

  • a clear and joyful faithfulness to our own identity and an openness to understand the conviction of others,

  • dialogue in daily life, i.e., a sharing of joys and sorrows,

  • the willingness to encounter each other on an equal footing and to learn from each other,

  • the responsibility to serve justice and peace through an ethical commitment that creates new social conditions,

  • Social dialogue in an environment of religious freedom.
    Pope Frances expresses this in the following words:
    “As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty which we believe have their highest expressing and source in God. We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation. A special place of encounter is offered [...] where believers and non-believers are able to engage in dialogue about fundamental issues of ethics, art and science, and about the search for transcendence‘. [204] This too is a path to peace in our troubled world. “ (Evangelii Gaudium 257)

 
For reflection:
How do I treat people / things that are foreign to me?