Faith and Dialogue

“If we put someone in a box, we’re not open to the true communication that leads to real understanding,” said Reverend Jane Thickstun, interim minister of the First Unitarian Society, speaking to a room full of Ithacans at the Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East’s (ICUCME) Feb. 8 pot-luck and community conversation at the Just Be Cause Center. The topic  – “Faith and Dialgoue” – led Rev. Thickstun into reflections on how stereotypes hinder understanding between people.

Fear is what’s at the root of stereotypes, Rev. Thickstun said. “But if we can be in touch with the goodness within us, the love that flows out from us…If we can get to that point where all faiths bring us to, there’s no need to fear people of other faiths.”

After Rev. Thickstun’s remarks, the room broke into smaller groups and one-on-one conversations, exploring questions like “what assumptions do you make about people of other faiths?” and “does your faith or value system makes you more or less willing to listen to people with differing opinions?”

The entire group came back together to share their discussions, including experiences of faith-based discrimination as well as positive examples of how to conduct conversations with people of strongly held convictions.

The evening concluded with lively music from members of the Cornell University Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and enthusiastic Middle Eastern dancing, featuring the Lebanese Debkeh, taught by Radwan Tajeddine, and Israeli folk dances, taught by Nomi Tami.