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Dialogues for Peace

By PAULA WELLNITZ
Guest Columnist

A year or so ago, I took a summer class at the University of Utah on "dialogue groups." I found the skill very different from what I had called "dialogue" up to then.

In the past, my idea of a dialogue group was one that came together to lean more about a subject. But, instead of a lecture format, the learners would expand, on question and respond to other ideas about the information.

In what I learned at the U of U, the members of a dialogue group each have a chance to express his or her ideas about a specific question or subject. All others listen intently and may ask a question to clarify something the speakers has said to better understand the other's thoughts. It can be very difficult to not be able to respond, or add to, or disagree with what another says.

Dialogue, as we learned in this class, does not have the intent to change the thinking of anyone there. It might, but it would just happen, not be striven for. What it can do is build a respect for and recognition of the good will of the others in the group.

Recently, in thinking about peace and the lack of it in our world today, it occurred to me that a small move toward peace could be a dialogue group on peace. So under the title "Dialogues for Peace," I decided that I wanted to offer to host a five week series of Tuesday evening dialogues at my house.

I am sure there are many different ideas and feelings about peace and its cause in our world, our country, our local community and home, It seems to me it could be helpful to bring those thoughts out into the open; to give people an opportunity to express themselves. Hopefully, there are people courageous enough to commit themselves to five hours to dialogue about peace.

Our usual American way is to want to DO something; to fix whatever. Many an information gathering discussion gets derailed by those who propose to solve one part of the issue without knowing all parts of the situation. Therefore, it needs to be clear that what I propose is a DI-alogue, not a DO-alogue group. Should any of the participants get ideas of something to DO, they would talk about it and organize outside the time of the dialogue.

My hope would be that dialogue will make Emery County a more peaceful place to lead out to the rest of the world. This would be done simply by bringing people together who see peace as important, however each thinks about it.





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