• Do I foster an atmosphere conducive to open dialogue, listening carefully to others and opening myself to opinions different from my own?

I try to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to open dialogue, but there are times where I simply don’t listen and open myself up to opinions that differ from my own.   I only do this when listening to those opinions could lead to the destruction of community, such as nativistic, nationalistic, racist views, i.e., beliefs that compromise safety and wellbeing.  These are the views that I was referring to in class when I asked if all views deserve to be included in the community, because these beliefs advocate the complete opposite of a community based on Quaker values, and can pose a threat to the safety of the community.  Also in my opinion listening to these views, could be taken as a validation of those views.  This is not to say that I don’t hear these views for I certainly do, but listening and hearing are two different things.  Moving on though, I do try to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to open dialogue and to do that I sometimes find that during some dialogue all of the views are somewhat similar, and the discussion is just running around in a circle, basically giving affirmations.  This leads me to try and play the devil’s advocate by bringing up an aspect of the discussion that has differing opinions or will start a new train of conversation that will result in a deeper discussion as more opinions become defined.  The redirecting of a stagnating discussion, also allows for more opinions to be included, because as dialogue stagnates it, in my view, can stop being open.  This closing of the conversation could be caused by people viewing the dialogue as boring because it is not sparking a will to discuss.  When I open myself to opinions that differ from mine, I constantly try to remain as passive as possible, because this allows me to not feel personally attacked, and I also can try to remove my bias from questions, that I ask.  Though I don’t go looking for open dialogue, because I find that it takes to much time to fit it into a normal schedule, and I do not want to do anything but think afterward, so I just lose all of my productivity.  I also don’t go looking for it because of its possible that the discussion will turn into a yelling match, and that disturbs the community, and just makes people angry at each other, which is never productive.  I  do listen carefully to others because that is the only way to be respectful of their opinions unless I don’t respect their opinion, then I don’t listen, but those situations were covered above.  Listening also helps one to formulate their own opinions better, because even by just thinking of a response they are forced to flush out their opinion by questioning whether or not they agree with what was said.