Some Thoughts on Debate Versus Dialogue, and Being a Channel of Peace

I think while debates can be interesting to read or listen to, sometimes they can get too heated up and the people involved become defensive and start to take each other’s comments personally. This is why I prefer not to engage in debates myself, as I prefer dialogues, like the interfaith dialogues I read about, since both parties would then be more open towards each other’s views and find some common grounds to agree on, even though they may not agree with everything the other party says. I think there’s something about our human psychological make-up in that we all want to be heard and understood, and our feelings to be validated, and usually a debate doesn’t allow that to happen. A dialogue, on the other hand, would be more constructive and more civil and allow people to feel accepted even though their views may not be accepted.

I learnt about the differences between debate and dialogue from this website on interfaith dialogues.

  • Debate is oppositional: two or more sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong. Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward a common understanding.
  • In debate one searches for the other position’s flaws and weaknesses. In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other position.
  • Debate creates a closed-minded attitude, a determination to be right. Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude, an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
  • In debate winning is the goal. In dialogue finding commonground is the goal.
  • Debate defends one’s position as the best solution and excludes other positions. Dialogue opens up the possibility of reaching a better solutions than any of the original solutions.
  • Debate assumes there is a right answer and that someone has it. Dialogue assumes many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can put them into a workable solution.
  • Debate implies conclusion. Dialogue remains open-ended.

It’s all about showing respect and dignity towards fellow human beings, and one can still show kindness and acceptance to others without having to put another person down when one disagrees with the other person’s views. I’ve come to realise that a spiritual truth or revelation is best shared when people are receptive in the environment of grace and acceptance. Proverbs says that a brother who is offended is harder to win than a strong city, so it helps to maintain a cordial relationship with people as far as necessary, without necessarily having to agree with them all the time.

On the other hand, there may be incidences whereby a strong reprimand is needed, especially when some people are clearly oppressing others using religion, and this is where Jesus reserved His stern words for the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites and snakes. In a way, Jesus is like a mirror in which the Pharisees saw themselves – a reflection of their own self-hatred. For example, those who were kind to Jesus would see a reflection of their own kindness in the mirror of Jesus, whereas those who were nasty to Jesus would see a reflection of their own nastiness in the mirror of Jesus. The woman at the well who showed kindness and respect to Jesus received kindness and respect from Him in return. The Pharisees who were jealous of Jesus and plotted to kill Him received a public lecture on their self-righteousness from Him in return. I think it shows that what we do to another person, we ultimately do to ourselves since we are all interrelated in the universe.

The following are some interesting nuggets of wisdom:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

– Albert Einstein

“Enlightenment for a wave in the ocean is the moment the wave realises that it is water.”

From “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh

James 3:18 “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” ♥

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” ♥

Romans 14:13 “So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”♥

Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”♥

Luke 7:47 “I tell you, her sins — and they are many — have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”♥

Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace

Based on a prayer by St. Francis

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love,
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness – only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all men that we recieve,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life

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