Differences as sources of learning, not arguments
ASC counterpart, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies is facilitating a consortium led civil society initiative to carry out a series of community level dialogue processes in wards and villages across Myanmar.
A partner consultation held in February thrashed out a solid plan of action that saw facilitators training taking place in late March and May and learning dialogues already rolling out in several locations across the country.
The dialogues will use a conflict transformation approach to create safe spaces where people can have a positive experience of sharing perspectives, listening to each other and feeling heard by one another. By creating opportunities for mutual listening and understanding, these facilitated dialogues will also aim to change mind-sets, challenge stereotypes and assumptions, and transform relationships in communities.
According to the draft People’s Dialogue handbook this is an attempt to build a culture of dialogue that will seek to instil a different approach to dealing with differences: “We tend to think that if people express different views then these differences lead to disagreement, argument and sometimes even conflict and war. In a dialogue this is not how we approach differences. Different views are seen as a valuable source of learning. Differences become an opportunity for people to explore why they are seeing things differently and look for ways to learn from each other.”
The People’s Dialogue is a partnership initiative by five organisations, Gender and Development Initiative (GDI), Knowledge, Dedication and Nation building (KDN), Paung Ku, Shalom Foundation and Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS). The partnership approach holds many lessons for all of us as we seek to build more collaborative efforts in the pursuit of our common goals. This graphic tries to articulate the underlying principles and values.
The ASC is sending positive energy to CPCS and the partnership in the months ahead. With a crucial election in Myanmar in September this initiative will add real value to the tense and dynamic context of a country caught in a transition whose outcomes will have implications across the region and beyond.