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From Aloisia Wörgetter, head of „Dialogue of Cultures” in Bundesministerium Europa Integration Äusseres. Austria
As pluralism and diversity are growing in Austria, dialogue becomes a need. Austria´s conception of dialogue with the civil society showed blind spots in cultures and religions. Dialogue is a modern method of diplomacy in contrary to negotiation. It happens on a very deep level. Dialogue opens up the space to wisdom spaces, peace building, to society and religious leaders.
Dialogue is part of prevention methodologies and is needed especially in common situations in which two or more persons have different views on a subject, here dialogue can lead to transformation. “We want to get a change of convictions peacefully, to insight, to trust building. To come to a change we need different methods to reach deeper, to learn about the others.” International dialogue helps to build social cohesion, where freedom of religion, culture and politics, rights of minorities are allowed.
Art as a cultural and motivating expression of feelings, coming from the heart of the society is a powerful tool for the service of the common good welfare. Art has a social function beyond the aesthetic and it is a key element in the integral development of peoples. Art is a great tool to unite society, therefore education must take into account its potential to affirm cultural identity and createwellbeing, which are essential for a culture of peace.
In Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union undertakes to hold an “open, transparent and regular dialogue” with the churches and religious communities. This dialogue, carried out at various levels, also includes EuropeInfos. This publication puts forward comments with a Christian perspective on current issues of the European Union, proposed in the spirit of dialogue.
Culture is a way of life, which is influenced by one’s world view, environment, and upbringing. It progresses from enculturation to assimilation. It guides us at each stage of life, helping us make choices and decisions. One area of culture that I wanted to understand was ‘the culture of dialogue’. The power of dialogue has immense potential to deepen the understanding of self and humanity. Though I always heard and read about dialogue, I felt the word was always romanticized in speeches, peace forums, and inter-religious gatherings. The only question I asked myself was, ‘Where is dialogue in action?’.
Recognizing that humans have a unique ability to take action in the world while simultaneously observing themselves in action, August Boal, the famous Brazilian director, artist and activist who introduced Theatre of the Oppressed, believed that the human was a self-contained theatre, actor and spectator in one. Because we can observe ourselves in action, we can amend, adjust and alter our actions to have different impact and to change our world.
One of the aspects of Human Rights is Cultural Rights. What is culture? In simple words, ‘culture is a way of life’. Anthropologist Edward B Tylor defines culture as a ‘complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’. This definition was considered important, as it was for the first time the word ‘culture’ was taken in the universal sense, breaking barriers of civilized and uncivilized distinctions. Humans are capable of adapting to any culture they live in.
Edwin: Pope Francis has announced his intension to visit Israel, Jordan, Palestinian territories in the month of May 2014. What do you expect from his visit towards peace in the Middle East?
David: The Pope is primarily coming to commemorate the historic embrace of Pope Paul VI with Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople in 1964 in Jerusalem, putting an end to centuries of bitterness and enmity. Pope Francis will embrace Patriarch Bartholomew here in Jerusalem, sending a message to the Christian world that our divisions are a source of scandal and render our witness inauthentic.
He will meet with the political authorities in Jordan, Palestine and Israel and of course stress the importance of justice, peace, pardon and reconciliation and surely address the instability throughout the Middle East. By putting evangelical words on our situation and speaking from his heart, as he does so well, I am sure he will help us see more clearly what we need to do to promote peace.