Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive.

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The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.

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What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us. People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions.

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How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of “neighbourliness”. We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be “neighbourly” in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as “neighbourliness”.

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It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness.

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Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.

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To dialogue means to believe that the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.

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The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.

Pope Francis, Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter - Pope’s Message for World Communications Day

This is a great man, who calls the internet a ‘gift from God’, and a means to bring the world closer together, through the power of open dialogue:

People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions.

Francis is an advocate of ‘strong beliefs, loosely held’, meaning we have to remain open to hearing others’ ideas, and to be willing to see the others’ legitimacy:

To dialogue means to believe that the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective.  Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.

Open dialogue — which the internet supports — is perhaps the larger gift, and Francis lives in that spirit, an inspiration to us all.

(h/t David Weinberger)

mypubliclands:

Learn about a unique piece of Alaska’s history and join us on www.twitter.com/BLMAlaska Feb 11 @10am AKST (2pm EST) for our #BLMIditaChat. Dog sled teams were just one of the many modes of transportation on the trail.Photo: First dog team to go to Nome to Seward by S. Sexton, Library of Congress Carpenter Collection

mypubliclands:

Learn about a unique piece of Alaska’s history and join us on www.twitter.com/BLMAlaska Feb 11 @10am AKST (2pm EST) for our #BLMIditaChat. Dog sled teams were just one of the many modes of transportation on the trail.

Photo: First dog team to go to Nome to Seward by S. Sexton, Library of Congress Carpenter Collection