First of all, we have to be sure that we are all using the word ‘dialogue’ in similar fashion. A dialogue is very different from a debate or a discussion. In a debate, the participants often arrive with prepared arguments and view-points; and therefore conflict is built into the very structure of the format for communication. In a discussion, although there may be many side tracks away from the main theme or topic, there is usually some central issue or problem for people to get to grips with; and often such topics attract to them people with their own prepared agendas and solutions. At the end of these sorts of things there is usually some sense of a conclusion, albeit a compromise or an agreement to disagree, whatever that means, or a sense of disjointed and abandoned projects.
But dialogue is different. There is no prepared agenda in the way that a debate or a discussion might operate because this is about two or more people looking at the whole panorama of existence, which includes looking carefully at themselves, at their relationship with each other and their relationship to the world outside.
Looking carefully at our lives in this way and getting involved in a dialogue, what is it that gets revealed? What is the new thing that gets discovered that we have never seen before? Obviously, the answer to this question cannot be stated in advance. In that respect it is a little like a rhetorical question. But it is a rhetorical question with some bite to it because the answer lies deep within the question; a surface glance and response are not enough. There is tremendous energy in a dialogue unlike in any other form of human communion. This energy soon gets dissipated as the past comes into play, whether as old images of the other participants, as a fixed world view or as vague hopes, dreams and wishes.
But if you and I are determined to meet together, look together and think together then there is no doubt at all that something extraordinary happens. For then we begin to acquire an appetite for order, a natural desire for order, which nothing on earth can prevent.