Inspire Dialogue Introductions: Baraa Halabieh
“What makes humanity so beautiful is our multiculturalism… the variety in our colours, cultures and beliefs is what makes us all unique.”
As an asylum-seeker in the UK, I am one of the ‘strangers’ coming here from the Middle-East. So the question that I ask is: how can we reduce the fear and suspicion that all of us have about strangers? I think the first thing is that we should all start asking ourselves questions. What do we know about these people? Why are they coming here? What are they looking for? What do we know about their culture and their history? Are there any points of commonality between our history and theirs? Many people, when trying to find answers, go to the media, but the media focus on just a part of the truth to support their own agendas. But when we start researching by ourselves, we discover truths which can be unexpected, or even shocking. For instance, we might find out that the patron saint of England, St George, was born in Turkey to a Syrian mother. Another fact, which I discovered only recently, is that the Roman Empire used 500 archers from my home city in Syria, Hama, to protect Hadrian’s Wall in England.
The second point is that I believe we need to start conversations. In every city, in every community, there is a stranger, someone whom we could look at as ‘another’, and this is the best way to break the ice. When you start a conversation, within the first five minutes you quickly discover that this person is bright, talented, educated, just like you. We all have the same dreams, the same fears – and one of the fears we as asylum-seekers have is not being accepted here and of being judged for the actions of a minority, in which we did not participate.
What makes humanity so beautiful is our multiculturalism. There is no pure race: the variety in our colours, cultures and beliefs is what makes us all unique. There is so much more which unites us than divides us.
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge
“When we go out and encounter others, we are asking for something that is not already there to come alive in us”read more
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
“Most of these people do not need money, but they need somebody that they can have a conversation with.”read more
Senior Director of Law and Policy for Amnesty International
“The stranger or ‘the other’ is a notion that we construct in our quest for a resource. In reality, there is no ‘other’…”read more
“How do we have a dialogue with someone who is fifty years away from inhabiting this earth? This leads to considerations of inter-generational responsibility”read more
Brendan Simms and Alison Liebling
“We were criticised and ridiculed by other professional groups for coming into a maximum security prison with the word ‘trust’ in mind.”read more
Lord Rowan Williams
“To be able to imagine that things don’t have to be as they are is perhaps one of the most important things that human beings ever do.”read more
Michael Sells and Simone Fattal talk about a new translation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s famous cycle of love poems, ‘Translation of Desires’
“For Ibn ‘Arabi longing or desire is a cosmic force. It goes beyond all boundaries, and it is the closest taste of the infinite that people can have in their own experience.”read more
Emma Clark visits the Luohan at the Temple Gallery in London
“This majestic and profound sculpture is both timeless and deeply meaningful in its capacity to give us an insight into what it means to be human.”read more
An interview with Heidi Herrmann about the work of The Natural Beekeeping Trust in preserving our precious populations of bees.
“We need to address the many ways in which we have fallen so far from the ideal place of humanity. The bees demonstrate this as a whole phenomenon – as ‘the Bee’.”read more
Khojeste Mistree talks about one of the world’s oldest surviving religions and what we can learn from it in the present day.
“One of the principles of the Zoroastrian way of life is to promote harmony in this world, and we believe that harmony begins by being happy within ourselves.”read more
Mark Boston reflects on painting the film Loving Vincent
“The entire movement of the world sometimes seems an endless, elaborately painted masterpiece, with every moment in a slightly different configuration from the last.”read more
Artist and psychotherapist Benet Haughton talks about the spiritual vision that underpins his life and work
“Something has to come through that I haven’t seen before, that is transformative, so that I’m surprised, genuinely surprised, by it.”read more
Political strategist David Bollier explains how a new economic/cultural paradigm is challenging the increasing ‘enclosure’ of wealth and human creativity.
“Identity and human flourishing come about through having a connection, a relationship with others, including non-human life and the earth itself.”read more
The inclusive vision of Glenn Murcutt’s Australian Islamic Centre
“The building sets out to be physically and psychologically inclusive. It speaks eloquently of both its current Australian context and ancient Islamic culture.”read more
The spiritual foundations of our contemporary desire for private space
“…the notion of solitude was essential to the development of concepts we now see as foundational for western society: individualism, freedom, social and political equality, democracy.”read more
An interview with Judith Hanson Lasater
“This is the freedom that yoga offers: it allows us to find that moment when we can choose the empathetic response, the compassionate response.”read more