Engaging in conversations on difficult topics requires a common ground. Until what extent can we hold conversations if one of the parts does not want to talk? What is there to be done when this is the case? What kind of mediation can there be in cases when not all parts are completely willing to not only talk but also listen? What preconditions are needed in order to sustain such a dialogue?
We had a session with Joan Blades, co-founder of Living Room Conversations. I think their proposal is interesting and valuable: creating safe spaces for dialogue in order to understand opposing points of view to your own and the people who hold these opinions. They hold these events all over the country and invite others to do the same. Going back to Mexico, this is a good project to try out.
Listening and understanding others’ points of view is important, but what is to be done with them afterwards? The point of the conversations is not changing each other’s point of view, but enriching it. However, just holding the conversation does not mean one will by any means be changed by it in any way. One might as well leave it feeling that their own point has been reassured. Actual dialogue requires a process of listening that needs to be developed and practiced over time. This exercises might help to those with the willingness, but they are not enough. Educational systems in various countries, where competition is the norm, don’t necessarily help develop capacities for sustaining dialogues in democratic societies.