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January 29, 2004

Quotes on Dialogue & Diversity

Tom Atlee compiled this list:

It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet.

-- Heisenberg, Werner. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science.
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In the solitude of the heart we can truly listen to the pains of the world
because there we can recognize them not as strange and unfamiliar pains but
as pains that are indeed our own. There we can see that what is most
universal is most personal and that indeed nothing human is strange to us.
There we can feel that the cruel reality of history is indeed the reality of
the human heart, our own included, and that to protest asks, first of all,
for a confession of our own participation in the human condition.

-- Henri Nouwen,, author, Catholic priest and member of L'Arche Daybreak in

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The afternoons under the tree are very important: it's when the older
people gather for a conference. The mango tree is the only place to meet
and talk, the village has no larger venue. People assemble eagerly and
willingly, because Africans are collectivist by nature, and possess a
great need to participate in everything that constitutes communal life.
All decisions, such as who should get how much land to farm, are made
collectively, and each resolution must be adopted unanimously. If
someone has a differing opinion, the majority must persuade him to
change his position. This can drag on endlessly, because the discussions
are famously garrulous. If someone in the village is quarreling with
someone else, then the court convened beneath the tree will not try to
ascertain the truth, or where justice lies, but will set itself the sole
task of ending the conflict and conciliating the warring sides, while
granting to each that he is in the right.

-- Ryszard Kapuscinski, "The Shadow of the Sun, My African Life," (p. 315, transcribed by Richard Moore)

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There is an urgency. There is an urgency to slow down. So I believe we should pause and reflect. Doing this alone is great, but I feel more and more it is important to reflect with people: From the slowing down and reflecting [with] people, strong sustainable decisions emerge. We have to take time to listen to the diversity around us. I am working alot with music now and more and more as I work with groups here I see how it represents us. If you do not stop and listen in music you cannot play with the others. But still you have to hold your distinct identity or it will all sound the same. The greatest music also descends into madness and chaos and comes out the other side again something new but connected. Sambe bands are a classic example of this. So we should make our decision making processes more like creating music, where we have to listen, communicate and rock it from our distinctness, welcoming our diverstity to the table, because it makes us sound fantastic! When we hit it, we feel the groove, in our hearts, bodies and souls, and right in the middle of everything.

-- Tim Merry

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We feel empowered when we feel capable of dealing with the forces that affect us and those we love; we feel disempowered when we feel that our fate is in the hands of others who do not fully recognize or care about who we are. Empowerment is ... about a way of organizing a community so that the knowledge and wisdom of all the participants is utilized and respected.

-- Mark Gerzon

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If diverse ordinary people are given adequate information and a chance to deeply hear each other and reflect together about public affairs, there is a natural tendency to come to see a larger picture together, through each others' eyes, and to then wrestle in good faith with the implications of that larger picture, so that in the end they find that their diversity is a resource, stimulating each other into remarkable creativity. Suddenly options that make sense to all or most of them emerge -- possibilities often unseen by any of them when they began talking.

-- Tom Atlee

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Everyone sat down, and the magic started happening. People started to listen. People realized that they had much more power as part of a process of learning and sharing than as a solo voice harping on a demand. People spoke of their needs, shared their ideas, explored possibilities with one another. The animosity, the militant activism, was drowned out. It wasn't shouted down by the crowd, but quieted in the minds and hearts of each of the 5000 individuals who became part of a larger voice. Not a voice of conformity, but a voice of unity that had room for a diversity of themes and tones and overtones.

-- A description by a participant in the AmericaSpeaks Listening to the City 21st Century Town Meeting.

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Journalist Ray Stannard Baker came to see that "Politics ... was in its essence the method by which communities worked out their common problems. It was one of the principle arts of living peacefully in a crowded world."

-- Bill Moyers

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The scarcest resource is not oil, metals, clean air,
capital, labor, or technology. It is our willingness
to listen to each other and learn from each other
and to seek the truth rather than seek to be right.

-- Donella Meadows
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In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.
-- John Stuart Mill

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Our pursuit of sustainability is not challenged by our technical capacity, but by our capacity to work together effectively towards common goals.

-- Iona Campagnolo, former Fraser Basin Council Chair

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With our ability, as humans, to examine our actions, both in advance and in the process, and change our patterns of action if we choose to do so, why, when we are unhappy, need we even go so far as fighting, let alone killing?

-- Letter From Martin Edwards in Baghdad, 3/29/2003

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"No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind."

-- Napolean Hill, "Think And Grow Rich".
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Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children.

-- Sitting Bull

Posted by Steph at January 29, 2004 8:23 AM

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