They came to find common points of humanity, not to debate politics, war or religion.

Such was the purpose recently for the event ‘Speaking Across Differences,’ where about 150 Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of Downtown Brooklyn and Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill gathered in the cafeteria at the High School for International Studies, 284 Baltic Street.

“The reality is that change doesn’t happen with big, grand, global statements but happens in small increments on a human level,” said Marcia Kannry, founder and president of the non-profit Dialogue Project, Inc., which put the event together.

“You need a place to share stories. When you have an experience with someone [from another culture], and the next time someone else tries to generalize about a certain group, you feel a little funny about it,” she added. . .

Hanan Allam, who emigrated from Egypt and sends her six children to a private Islamic School and attends the Dawood Mosque in Downtown Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue, agreed with Burns.

It is good living in a multi-cultural society where everyone is free to do whatever they want and practice their own religion, she said.

While some may have come away from the meeting with the thinking the event was some kind of ‘touchy-feely’ affairs, Rev. Peter Cullen, the clergy leader at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Clinton and Carroll Streets, dispelled the notion.

“In our neighborhood and increasingly in our world we can’t live in isolation, or in a peace that exists because we don’t bump into people. There are healthy and unhealthy ways of bumping into people,” said Cullen.

Cullen said the organizers of ‘Speaking Across Differences’ believe that there are ways to have healthier encounters to bump into each other.

“Part of the methodology of ‘Speaking Across Differences’ involves a disciplined decision to listen to what somebody else has to say. It is a belief that when we hear others speak that we will recognize the fact that we share more in common with the others than we think we do,” he added.

For more information on the organization, log onto www.thedialogueproject.org or call 768-2175.


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