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Take a Stand on Dialogue

Wednesday there was an exercise about dialogue challenges. The participants had to place them self physical on a line depending on whether they agreed or disagreed on different statements. So if you agreed on a specific statement you placed yourself in one end. If you disagreed you placed yourself in the other end. There was also an opportunity to place yourself somewhere between agree and disagree.

The statements were regarding politics, religion, ethnicity and social position:

Politics

  • Everyone (also extremists) have a right to say what they want in the public
  • I would like to have a personal dialogue with a nazist

Religion

  •  It should be possible to argue with religious arguments in the public
  • There should be a clear line between religion and the state

Ethnicity

  • Ethnic minorities should have special rights in the legislation, e.g. right to speak their own language and representation in the political system
  • Ethnic minorities should as much as possible adopt to the majority culture

Social position

  • The state should secure that neighborhoods are mixed with poor and rich people
  • The state should as much as possible secure an equal society regarding social, economic and cultural capital

The Cultural Boat

As a part of the group building activities the participants made the exercise The Cultural Boat. The exercise was about experiencing and reflecting stereotypes. The participants was divided into groups and each group got a label, e.g. religious people and progressive people. Then the groups got some time for preparing  – finding clothes, finding out how they speak and behave, etc. After that they got the task: ‘The end of the World is coming after 45 min. The only way to survive is to build one boat for everyone and to fit in to it.’

Afterwards there was a common reflection about the experiences and perspectives of the exercise. Some of the experiences was the direct clashes between the different groups and that everyone’s focus point was to protect their own identity and not solve the common task. Though, at last they overcame the differences and succeed with the task. The perspective was that the exercise indicated that you need to have a common goal if you want to create connections between people with different life stances. The challenge is to find that common goal.

Intro session

The Dialogue Agents started with an intro session, where the participants got introduced to the programme and different perspectives on dialogue. The participants also shared their expectations for the week.

Jakob presented following perspectives on dialogue:

Steinar Bryn – the difference between discussion and dialogue

DiscussionDialogue
It's about winningIt's about understanding
ConvinceTell stories
TalkingListening
Get the opponent to feel unsecureGet the opponent to feel safe
Moral judgementTolerance
You are weak if you change oppinionYou are strong if you change oppinion

Jürgen Habermas

  • We need a public dialogue to make good society decisions
  • The 51% of the population taking decisions is not a democracy

Chantal Mouffe

  • Conflicts and disagreement are a good thing
  • We should make conflicts productive
  • We need someone to fight with, but we should concieve “the other” as an opponent rather than an enemy

Hannah Arendt

  • Talking is action
  • Public dialogue is power
  • Freedom is achieved in the public by acting together with others

The particpants had following expectations to the week:

What do I want to learn?

  • Info about politics and religion
  • Be able to be yourself
  • Be able to learn
  • Accept your and others cultures
  • Follow the energy
  • How to convince
  • To explore other ways of living

How do we secure a good and safe learning environment?

  • Communication
  • Speak English
  • Tolerance
  • Make information
  • Be honest
  • Transfer the learning to the big society
  • Ask questions
  • Be flexible to other opinions
  • Make other people laugh
  • Show our cultures
  • We should have fun and conversations
  • Be opponent
  • Respect and talk freely
  • We are responsible for each others