Forum for Global Dialog seeks improved communication

While inviting questions on just about any topic, a new Forum for Global Dialog on Sunday night at Ashland's Unitarian Church indicated we are moving into a much more pluralistic, diverse world and had better learn to listen to each other instead of working things out in the old way, with conflict.

"The challenge is, can old dogs learn new tricks? How do we live in an uncertain world? We do our inner work and learn not to need certainty and that comfort of being right," said writer and workshop leader Marla Estes.

Journalist and astronomer Richard Moeschl said people are still thinking in old tribal ways and "it's too much work to look at what we're doing to the planet" because the old ways still seem to be working well enough.

Poet and writing teacher Julie Excell called on humanity to keep "that sense of mystery and connection alive" while realizing that if we had the answers to all our great questions, "what a horrible day that would be."

The panel, called "Asking the Great Questions of Life," was sponsored by Omega House Spiritual Life Center and Creative Learning Community, with director Rich Lang moderating.

The same great questions keep showing up in each of us, Lang said, and force us to "confront the shadow in each of us — our deepest fears."

Panelists agreed this is an exciting time because, while our traditional institutions no longer answer life's basic questions, it also means individuals have the opportunity to embark on that quest.

Religion scholar and author Steve Scholl urged people to take time to listen to others, even strangers and they will find that "everyone has something to offer that's pretty profound and meaningful."

Asked about humanity's difficulty in solving problems without conflict, transpersonal counselor Ed Hirsch said we have to learn to "hold both sides of opposing truths" instead of feeling secure by holding onto one side and decimating the other side."

Moeschl questioned our ethic of competition and conquest in activities ranging from high school debate to business competition.

Teacher Roy Kindell said it's a valuable lesson to learn that "you don't marry ideas; you date them."

Jan Waitt, a member of the audience of about 100 said the philosophies expressed were very interesting and amounted to "try to look inside yourself and get along" — and "they didn't get down" to defining the broader challenges facing us."

Her husband, Ron Waitt noted, "It's fun to talk about and difficult to get real answers on these things."

The Global Dialog panel will be a quarterly event.

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