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Network for Peace through Dialogue

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November 16, 2016

Final Living Room Dialogue as the Network for Peace through Dialogue organization

Reflecting on Living Room Dialogues and Revisiting the UN's SDGs

After introductions, the Dialogue Practice cards were distributed as they are at every dialogue session and read aloud by the members of the group. The practices are:

  • Listen for Understanding – listen with equal respect for each person present.
  • Speak from your heart as well as your mind—speak only when you are sincerely moved to make an honest contribution from your own experience.
  • Suspend judgment -- let go of any need to be right or have a right answer; try to suspend certainty.
  • Hold space for differences – embrace all points of view; change the "buts" to "and".
  • Remain open to all outcomes.
  • Slow down – let there be spaces, silence in the dialogue.

Virginia Dorgan then asked the participants to spend a few moments in silence to reflect on four questions: What have the Living Room Dialogues meant to you? How do you use what you have learned in Living Room Dialogues in other areas of your life? How have Living Room Dialogues affected your conversations? How have Living Room Dialogues affected your relationships?


They have opened my mind to issues of women and trafficking. They have also led me to other events where I have met great people. As a result of discussing Pope Francis's encyclical and sustainability, I have been taking a master composting class. It has opened up new possibilities I would never have imagined.

They have enabled me to listen better and allow people to say what they want to say rather than what I would like them to say. They also remind me of the saying that how we treat the stranger is how we treat the stranger in ourselves.

Changing the "buts" to "and" has been important for me. The "but" signals "I have a better idea than you have."

I have a lot more patience with people. When I can suspend judgment, most of the time I learn something.

Suspending judgment is hard to do. I'm getting better at waiting out silences.

I've been in disagreements with my children where the silences have lasted a long time! The desire to dialogue pays off in the long term, though, and my relationships with them are better. I look at the dialogue cards every day as a reminder.

Suspending judgment is hard to do. I'm getting better at waiting out silences.

I've been in disagreements with my children where the silences have lasted a long time! The desire to dialogue pays off in the long term, though, and my relationships with them are better. I look at the dialogue cards every day as a reminder.

I've always let emotions drive conversations. I've learned to listen better to the other side.

I like coming to a place where I know people share the same values. The conversations about ecological things have broadened me.

How do we engage people who think differently? What if every elementary school teacher asked students to write to President Trump and tell him what they would like him to do?

How can we have dialogue with people like ISIS fighters? Can we ever achieve peace? Dialogue in our own country has a better chance.

We should deliberately take the process to places where people disagree with us. Go out and speak to clergy in various traditions who have been fighting for thousands of years and introduce dialogue practices. Go out in pairs. That is the level I would suggest.

It goes back to how we are as people, we can be an example when we are open and respectful of others.

We went to a mosque once and suggested meetings were we would bring our Bible and they their Koran. Right away someone said: "We are not Trinitarians and we don't think Jesus was God." Then someone else suggested that instead of starting with our differences, we start with what we have in common.

I have learned that Catholicism is the highest order of religion and that Jesus is at the highest level. In the Muslim religion, people are doing horrible acts, cutting off people's heads and abusing women, for example. They pray facing down into the darkness.

You are responding to your fears. We have to beyond our fears.

You are expressing what many feel – We do not know what can happen. People wonder, for example, will the annual Thanksgiving Day parade be safe?

The violence here is related to the violence this country has done to other countries. It is related to the movement of refugees. We don't notice things like how human trafficking keeps our lives comfortable. We dehumanize people. We need more analysis.

If we are fearful we can't analyze and we make the "enemy" bigger than it is.

I'm from Canada and this is the hardest thing for me to accept. We don't treat people like "them" vs "us." In recent years some of your fears have slipped over the border. People asked me if it would be safe to come to New York. Your gun statistics have become worse than Yemen. You need to widen your circle. Our cabinet is half women. We have a Sikh as defense minister. We are going to get a carbon tax. We compost everything. To close the meeting, people were asked what thoughts they would take away with them.

I will think about who in the city I can approach to discuss possibilities for having periodic dialogues.

I want to participate with others in interfaith conversations. I plan to get in touch with the mosque on 96th St.

There is plenty we need to dialogue about. I will try to do it wherever I can.

I realize the need more and more to take opportunities to know "the other" better.

I am grateful for the sharing here in openness and respect.

One-on-one is the way. When I put aside my judgments, people will share their lives with me.

I live in E. Harlem and people see me as a white dude there. I don't know how to change that. They don't see me and that makes it harder to love. Maybe it's my fear – if I go back 20 years I thought the Church hated me as a gay man and I hated myself.

I want to congratulate Jinny and Kathleen for persisting with their vision of the necessity of dialogue in the face of a lot of skepticism. They continued just by bringing people together and developing the dialogue guidelines. We can see the fruits of that this evening.

On this International Volunteer Day December 5th

Take Ownership of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

You are invited to a PRESENTATION and WORKSHOP sponsored by Commission on Voluntary Service & Action, publisher of INVEST YOURSELF: The Catalogue of Volunteer Opportunties for nonprofit staff, volunteers, community organizers, students, professors, clergy and lay leaders who want to learn how to make these SDGs a reality in the U.S. along with the rest of the world.

Monday, December 5th, 2016 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm Hosted by ATD Fourth World Movement NY at 172 First Avenue, New York Call CVSA for more info (718) 482-8724

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