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Articulating "The Way Forward"

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Part of Towards Transformative Conferencing and Dialogue: Collection of papers and notes, problems and possibilities on the new frontier of high-risk gatherings concerning social development (1991). Prepared in the process of envisaging the group dynamics of the World Parliament of Relgions


1. Beyond reiteration: We should move away from mere reiterations of our sectional concerns and interests.

2. Knowing ourselves: We should aim to deepen our understanding of the perspectives, the objectives, and the implications of our own sectional interests and positions. This itself would be achieved by willingness to subject those interests and positions to candid and rigourous examination in a collegial climate.

3. Knowing others: We should aim to deepen our appreciation of the perspectives, the objectives, and the implications of the sectional interests and positions of others. This is inevitable in a process where all ideas contend and all voices are heard in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance.

4. Points of convergence: We should seek to recognise the points of convergence: the concerns which are shared, the issues which unite, and the universal interests which energise us all. This would be a natural result of deepening understanding of one's own as well as others' positions.

5. Points of divergence: We should attempt to go beyond recognizing merely the least common denominators and seek also to isolate the points of divergence: the concerns and interests which separate us and which therefore do not lend themselves to unified or collective actions and approaches. It is understandable that there will be an irreducible set of concerns and interests around which there is and can be no consensus. This is inevitable given our different cultures, background, motivation, and life situation. It may even be desirable that this be so, as a way of preserving individuality, diversity, and group identity. All the more reason that the points of divergence be analysed, isolated, understood and respected in our continuing dialogue.

6. Milestones of progress: We should seek to identify the milestones of progress relating to the concerns and interests which are shared, as well as the various routes by which we might get there.

7. Agreement on action: We should aim to agree about the prospects for and the specifics of action which should be undertaken, whether individually or collectively, in order to reach those milestones.

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