Dialog starts at a pivot point. It begins when we stand together at an intersection where we both know we disagree about something each of us considers important. People seldom choose to enter that space together. That choice alone has power.
Then dialog demands that each of us listen generously. Rachel Remen, MD, describes the healing effect of that action.
Does healing mean we always find common ground on the issues that divide us? In my experience, not necessarily.
But there's a common ground more fundamental than beliefs and principles. If the dialog process has been genuine, there's a chance it can still be transformative, because dialog can destroy demonization.
If we have listened to each other and shared values that matter to us, then we may recognize the Spirit alive in each of us, despite very different manifestations.
We may remain "poles apart," but perhaps no longer polarized. Remember how magnets spring apart and cannot be pressed together? Dialog can help us get past an automatic mutual rejection and a gut sense that our deepest essence defines us as opposing forces.
Sure, each of us may continue to believe the other is misinformed, misguided, mistaken. But probably we won't consider the other person actually bad. We may even like each other.
Whether it remains viable or valuable to continue the exploration for common ground - that's a separate question for discernment.
But dialog will give us new insight, even in disagreement. And of course our deepest listening must be to God's presence in and among us, without barriers that try to predetermine where God dwells.