Sunday, February 12, 2006

Welcome and Welcome (achelan w'asachelen)

This is for you whom I have invited to join my roundtable. Naturally an introduction is in order before you decide to join me, hopefully for at least a few rounds of honest, and generous discussion about all kinds of topics imaginable. Generous meaning no holding back for fear of misunderstanding and sharing in what you truly believe, perceive and feel.

My name is Ingrid and I was born and raised in the Netherlands. Looking back, I can see how seemingly ordinary family birthday gatherings shaped my ability to engage in intense discussions where I can completely disagree with someone without disliking or hating them for theirs. My family would get together and talk politics, world affairs, religion and some people would get upset until one person would call a time out and say, ok, enough arguing, do you want to have another drink/cake?

It's also a dutch thing; to agree to disagree. If there is anything that annoys aDutch person more than it is to disallow them to voice their opinions because opinions they have! They don't apologize for it and they don't expect you to apologize for yours. It seems pretty straightforward but after having moved to North America, I found that culturally, people react differently to you when you have a (strong) opinion. In general, my experience has been that those who react defensively do not have any opinions, or they do not know much about certain things. Funny enough, the very thing a Dutch person will talk openly and unashamedly about (politics) is somewhat of a taboo here in the US; don't talk about politics unless you really know someone because you might offend someone! (hmmm, what is left to talk about..the weather?)

Anyway, I'll try to get to the point of this blog. I want to promote in my own way, all the different viewpoints that are out there from bloggers from different countries. I want to provide a safe space where people can freely ask each other questions about each other's culture, religion, politics you name it, even if they are 'sensitive', hot topics type questions. The goal is to be enlightened, clarified and also to be heard and understood. Even when participants don't agree. The motto of this round table is "to agree to disagree" , but most of all, it is, to listen with an open ear and open heart, allow questions even if they make you feel uncomfortable, defensive or what have you, knowing that the questions comes from a need to understand.

Bloggers who live in closed societies, non democracies, and places where opinions could land them in jail are especially courageous and I will at all cost protect your identity for your safety. If I have invited you and you will accept, remember that I do not underestimate the risks you take by putting yourself out there.

After I have received confirmation of all the invited bloggers to participate, I will email an actual more specified intent and rules of engagement, so that we have a frame work in how to ask questions, how to answer (everything within reason of course) and how to work on this blog together. I will ask each blogger for links and some readings about their culture, religion whatever appropriate so that we all can learn more about each other, and those visiting the site, can refer to them when reading the contributions.
I will also ask for a consensus on the logistics of posting here (i.e. rss feed or other) so as much as I will be the chair person, you all will have a voice and be able to shape discussion and direction of this blog while participating.

One last thing, I would like for you to participate once a week for at least 6 months. We can get to know each other better, and if people want to contribute more often, great, if not, no problem. The actual time committment can be done through consensus as well.

Thanks for checking this out, I hope you join me.

Ingrid email


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