We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

We Are A People of Dialogue

We are a people of dialogue. God initiated this dialogue by creating us in order to live in dialogue and in peace. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

For it is only the truth that will set us free … to be ourselves to love and respect each other, to enrich and develop each other and the environment, thus building a relationship of harmony and peace in spite of our social, cultural and religious differences.

Through dialogue we come to know the truth. When the truth possesses us, we discover aspects of the issue we have not seen before. We are then liberated from our mistrusts and prejudices. We eventually change our views. And as partners in dialogue, we together reach a happy consensus. Hence in authentic dialogue, there are no losers— only winners.

With this in mind we can now make a shift in our perspective on the issues that face us and reconsider our respective roles. The new perspective is Dialogue for Peace and Development. Our only role is that of partners in dialogue. So we are all dialogue partners. We are all peacemakers and peace-builders. Our peacemaking and peace building is directed towards the total, human and sustainable development of our people and our land.

This is the common good. This is and must always be our real motive in any social, economic, political and cultural activity we undertake. In this new perspective, we are not promoters and oppositors, pros and antis, protagonists and antagonists, progressives and conservatives, concerned and unconcerned, involved and uninvolved, neutrals and partisans.

We are and must be a people in constant dialogue with one another. So wherever this friendly encounter is held, wherever the partners stand:

- whether separately or together, whether through media or correspondence,
- whether in private or in public, in the Churches or in Congress, in the streets or at home, in symposia or in consultation the dialogue is characterized by attentive listening on the levels of words, meaning and persons, but most especially on this third level.

Listening on the level of persons is possible only when there is love and respect, acceptance and openness, sincerity and truthfulness, calmness and sobriety, humility and patience, reasonableness and clarity.

This is the attitude, the outlook, the spirit that leads to the discovery of the truth that will set the partners free to disagree without being disagreeable, and to arrive at or postpone a consensus for the good of all.

Without these elements in dialogue, the truth and, consequently, peace, will always elude us. Without them we are doomed to live with untruth and half-truths, errors and lies, deceit and mistrust. Without them dialogue is turned into insulting debates and bitter diatribes, into debilitating argumentation and anarchic squabble where the winner is determined by the tyranny of banners and placards, and God forbid … by the tyranny of force of arms.

Because we are a multi-religious and multi-cultural society engaged in a peace process that is still holding, we can continue to prove, as it is being proven, that sustainable development and lasting peace through authentic dialogue is possible in a democracy and society such as ours.

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

January 9, 2005