by: Mohammad Kassaei Zadeh; Journalist, Management Consultant
In March 2002, the beautiful isle of Kish was witness to the first International Seminar for Fiction and Dialogue Among Cultures. The seminar, which was hosted by the Kish Free Zone Organization and the International Centre for Dialogue Among Civilizations, dealt with the interrelationship between Fiction – as perhaps the most commonly influential form of literature – and dialogue between cultures. Considering the short period of organization that was afforded and the complex process of inviting national and international writers and specialists, the seminar was generally welcomed with warmth, so that very likely had there been more due advance – many more would have taken part in this cordial gathering . The three day program, that included the presentation of papers, reading of stories and roundtable discussions, took the idea of dialogue among civilizations one step further. This idea – which was brought forth a number of years ago by President Khatami – and the need that is felt by the world community for such a concept, calls upon the thinkers of this world to add hereto and the various definitions and values it embodies , each based on their own understanding and area of specialty. Only thus, may thinkers and writers play a leading role in improving the lives of ordinary people ,placing themselves at the side of those who bear the difficulties of our time, supported often solely by a hopeful eye towards a better future. Writers of literary works, further than in strengthening the cultural identity of the societies they mirror and represent, in fact also form and influence this culture, so that it is this ability that allows the local cultures to be widened and made more international , with it making their own experiences and histories more available to the world at large. And it is natural that the expectations are greater still of writers stemming from cultures which consider themselves “richer and more tended to”, so that they especially are called upon to proceed with conceptual dialogues in an endeavour to achieve stability and lasting and effective peace. Today’s world is in need of a deep and mutual understanding among peoples, an awakening of latent mental possibilities and reinforcement of human values through the use of reasoning ; factors that despite this acute need, have not been developed to the same extent as technical and scientific fields, so that this failing resulting from the lack involvement of logical thought and considered dialogue in national and international and political determinations is today clearly evident. In other words, that which can bring about more creativity and enlightenment in thought and social behaviour, has not been tended to in the same degree , and we have been far more interested in finding new sources of capital per say, as tracing the outlines of intelligent action and interaction – using such tools as dialogue. Therefore, it is of importance that specialists in and thinkers of various fields, use such concepts and approaches more freely and wisely, in the interest of social and behavioural development. Approaches , that in the light of knowledgeable and rational dialogue lead to the further discovery of the true needs of the men and women of today ,and ways in which these needs may be fulfilled – while at the same time marking a new movement towards the reform and further evolution of human interrelations. For this reason, one may be allowed to consider the idea of a “dialogue between civilizations and cultures” as one of the most timely and appropriate endeavors aimed at encouraging humanity farther on the road to understanding, a lasting and just peace and the reinforcement of man’s will, through this very dialogue. A dialogue that requires patience in listening to the wishes of others, reasoning in stating ones own intentions and the grasp of new developments in all the complexity of interplay between societies and individuals in our time. At such times, when a single person‘s thought can not answer the collective wishes and ponderings of many , when interdependence and communication are making our world increasingly “smaller”, growing concepts of demands for equality make it increasingly impossible for the wants and interests of very small groups to be placed above those of the human community and social phenomena are ever more influential on this whole – it is natural that thinkers can not achieve complex responses and solutions for local or international problems by solitary reflection alone. For in order to face new phenomena and manage social conditions, one needs to have a clear grasp of the forever changing conditions – something which requires the type of collective contemplation that can only be brought about by a form of dialogue that is rooted in thought. Dialogue among creative thinkers, is a chance for furthering the sources of reasoning while seeking to respond to the needs of the people of our times. At the same time, we must accept that the worries of humanity today, have come to have a universal character, so that any answer presented by the intelligent and intellectual, will remain ineffective if it does not include this reality. Perhaps an approach chosen by the writers and learned of our day, can lead to a new movement of the understanding of self as also others; an element that can in the light of increasing dialogue bring further prosperity and prospective to the humanity at large and be a source of interdependence between the various “thinking classes” in the societies that feel this acute need for mutual understanding. A kind of dialogue that can encourage the continuous flow of thought as also its influence on others , bringing with it the hope of achieving common visions which may be effective for and towards human development, making the positive role of the writer and reflector among peoples , more evident. Intercultural dialogue , is a historic chance to lessen uncomfortable and dangerous divisions in the one true and lasting culture of humanity at large, preventing the perilous crisis and conflicts that these divisions entail so that should such a chance not be grasped at, we must expect and await bigger and more dangerous conflicts to unfold. But as yet, today’s writers and cultural personalities can in the scope of their creative capabilities, be the messengers of the arts, values, justice and tolerance – and using such a breathtaking opportunity, tend to the renewal of relations between peoples. A renewal and encouragement of relations that in the last decades have been both deteriorated and intentionally and short-sightedly taken apart , the latter by those trying to explain our world from dark and narrow angles of very limited and limiting interests. The expansion of such a perception in the reconstruction of human relations can promote cultural influences and the effect that individuals can have on the growth and progressive advance of one another , and stress the value of being human, – while with time reinforcing the will of the people in shaping and stabilizing the actions of governments, and in the nuances of the effective workings of the “thinking classes” act to the promote social awareness, shape social movements and deflect them from the trend of the enmity of governments, towards tolerance between their peoples and with time thus among their elected representative bodies. Therefore, the reception of today’s thinkers of the concept of “dialogue” , their efforts towards making their own culture understood and in better understanding the cultures of others, and their determination to reshape the way Man views Man and “his” relationships as also the sincerity underlying this perception and the fruits thereof which is their works, has the potential to turn thoughtful dialogue into attainable enlightenment.