Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Monday, 24 May 2021

Dialogue is a human and national necessity

By Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader :

Dialogue is a sublime human quality that people enjoy in its capacity as a gift from the Almighty God. It implies the ability to communicate and convey opinions in a moral way that respects the opinions of others. There are basics that address dialogue in its various human, political and religious aspects. In the past, a process called "dialectics" emerged. Dialogue, in its current sense, did not imply exchange of opinions and coming up with joint recommendations that serve all parties. Its goal at the time was to refute the ideas of others and to control the intellectual arena with a stronger opinion that eliminate contradicting opinions.


In our present society, dialogue has developed through intellectual conferences as well as international, regional and local forums held in countries to the point that the concept of dialogue has become one of the accepted and inevitable matters in all societies. Of course, there are several qualities and expressions that refer to dialogue, such as the negotiating table and the "round table" which indicates that all express the equality of all the interlocutors have equals standards. This is not like the rectangular table in which one presides over the meetings.


In the field of religious dialogue, developments have been effected. We have noted that dialectics prevailed, and then this developed into intellectual dialogues. Later, the concept of "dialogue of life" emerged while not  focusing on doctrines but rather on the views of different religions on the  common issues in humanity such as education, women, peace, the values of justice and equality, and environmental cooperation because the environment is the common home of humanity.


When the modern media--namely social communication—emerged, religious affairs had a presence on various outlets. But dialogue was no longer serene and objective, because everyone has the right to speak what one thinks, and often posts opinions without consulting anybody or even thinking about the ramifications of a certain expression, drawing or opinion. Therefore, we have had social media conflicts and offensive comments,  where a regrettable situation developed with regards to hate speech in societies, whether it is religious, ethnic, racial, sectarian or political one, and its main concern is the criminalize the opposing opinion. Furthermore, electronic bullying has also emerged which regrettably became prevalent. It aimed at inflicting harm on ordinary figures such as school students. There is also a kind of bullying which negates the personality of the others, denigrates them, and comments negatively on the saying or action of others.


Where are we heading?


There is no doubt that the current situation--whether locally, regionally, or globally-- has pros and cons in managing dialogues and hot discussions on social media, and that the situation cannot remain as such since several countries have installed special cybercrime units in all security agencies and some countries have issued laws that prohibit and criminalize religious offenses. The United Arab Emirates, for example, was one of the first countries that enacted this law in 2015 due to the ethnic and religious plurality that exists on the UAE territories.


Can such enacted laws reduce this very violence prevailing on social media?


Undoubtedly, the process requires several solutions. I had the honor to participate In the second day of the Upper House of Parliament meeting on dialogues that took place recently, which touched on the principle of plurality that characterized the first century of the Kingdom of Jordan, while we view  the new centenary with optimism and hope. However, regarding respect for opinions and the counter opinions, we must refer firstly to the educational path of treatment through the curricula, and through educating the new generation to respect the various opinions. Secondly, we must refer to the religious approach by enhancing religious dialogue that encourages respect, love, and cooperation with others, even if they are different; and thirdly by referring to policy adopted by media and focusing on ethical media education. This will save humanity from the current misuse of the media, from abuse of others, and from viewing them as unworthy to speak, to express their opinions, to practise their own rites, traditions and customs.


We implore the Almighty God to give us a helping  hands  so as to works for the benefit of the entire humanity.