Society Conference

Respect begins with an encounter

The Society Conference 2011 in Cologne

Paths, trails, passages and fence breaks in our society – throughways. That was the theme of the Society Conference on 24 September 2011 in Cologne. Balloni hall provided space for discussions, incentives, questions, answers, experiences, observations, emotions, meetings and discussions.

A lively group came together and designed a day full of diversity, otherness and difference. Who was there? Pupils, students, neighbours, dropouts, business consultants, rich people, old people, self-employed people, employees, happy people, executives, actors, nice people, heterosexuals and homosexuals, pastors, seekers …

Strength and vitality of diversity

On the sunny autumn Saturday, a clearing was created, away from the familiar surroundings, in which parts of our society could be perceived in their diversity. The conformist mask could be removed, and there was exchange about differences. The results showed the strength and vitality that diversity possesses. Through joint dialogue, it was possible for fantasies and projections to be reduced, and some to even be discarded. Prejudices of various kinds lost their sharpness and dissolved one by one. New approaches appeared and realistic perception was possible. The »other« was different, but no longer so strange.
A highlight of the cooperative day was the performance of the forum theatre Pele – Espaço de Contacto Social e Cultural from Portugal. Without words, but with all the more energy, the young group reflected how society could be: integrative and excluding, passionate and stubborn, happy and oppressive, spontaneous and repressive, diverse and monotonous. In the process, everyone was invited to get involved in the game and even to influence it. And then, as well, the diversity of the participants was evident. Ideas ranged from ignoring and aggressive attempts to break the group up to the temptation to dance. All of these displays had one thing in common: Society is complex and pressure generates distance, while respectful encounters open up opportunities.

In the mutuality of respect is diversity fruitful

That was a key message of the day. It is not tolerance that is so important to us. It’s respect. Only in the mutuality of respect is diversity fruitful, and only then can it open the door to others. The other person might then be the source of personal development, the source of new ideas, the source of new energy.