A Place Beyond Belief: MULTILOGUE

By Nikola Hale

Moving beyond cross-cultural and intercultural competences, practitioners and researchers are now investigating what transcultural competence can mean for our tribe of explorers working in diversity. Diversities of any kind, be they ethnic, racial, national, gender, generational, socio-educational, political, professional, cognitive, religious or others, are social constructs which we have created and reinforced. Researchers into transcultural competence are investigating what happens when we move beyond and through cultural boundaries and dimensions to the liminal space which appears between. No longer is it sufficient to view cultures as islands or things, we now see the liminal third culture space as a fertile field for co-creation, focusing on the relationships we build together.  These transcultural developments provide an approach which inspires the reset and redesign of what I call the un-alienated life ahead. 

For those of us privileged to have shelter, food, medicine, and space to distance during the pandemic, we have sometimes taken for granted the luxuries of having a home to work from, and the extra time to reflect on our very purpose and function. For most of the world’s population, without sufficient and constant access to medical care, space to social distance, a paycheck, or even reliable information, surviving and thriving equitably have been the dark challenges. Conscious of the advantages some of us have enjoyed, I see hopeful responses unfolding around the world, as lighthouses illuminate a more compassionate way to live and work. Since the lockdowns started, we have begun learning what we really need, and unlearning what we perhaps no longer regard essential. Now it is time to make these discoveries known, to build on them, and to impact the circle of influence we do have, large or small.

The MULTILOGUE I describe is a new cosmopolitan perspective that offers the intercultural discipline a fluid, dynamic and enabling approach for building relationships in collaborative work. Similar to what the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, * describes as the “interbeing” way of living in relation to others, the MULTILOGUE supports seeing the “other” as human and rejects the constructs of race or status which divide us.  In the un-alienated life, we want to consider alternative views. We dare to jump out of the echo chambers we tend to reside in, our “comfy” zones, to hold space for the other–the sister, the brother, the they.  We try to transcend the tensions of polarities such as same or different, universal or specific, global or local. We seek to understand and collaborate in our environment that has been disrupted by the volatilities and ambiguities of our disrupted worlds. 

As one of the experts in the global Delphi study on Transcultural Competence, headed by Julika Baumann Montecinos and Tobias Gruenfelder, at the Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin, (LEIZ) at Zeppelin University, in Friedrichshafen, Germany, I share with you a neophyte’s podcast introducing the MULTILOGUE, “a place beyond belief”. These are intended as an “enhancement”, nudges to dig deeper into exploring what MULTILOGUING can do for our diverse collaboration spaces. Please see footnotes to access the preliminary article explaining more about the inspirations which have led to the MULTILOGUE approach. The final chapter will appear in mid-2022 in the LEIZ research group’s publication on Transcultural Competence, as “The MULTILOGUE, a co-creation of safe and brave collaboration spaces for working in diversities, as it connects to building transcultural competence”. I invite you to listen in, at the link and read the text to the podcast, both below.

Kotler, Arnold, ed. 1996, Being peace

a place beyond belief

I couldn’t move away 

when I came upon a huge dark construction 

with lights sending the message, a place beyond belief,

at the Kochi-Muziris art biennale in Kerala two years ago.

the artist, Nathan Coley, had overheard these words after 9/11,

describing the destruction at Ground Zero.

I use these words today 

to describe our chance                          

to build new lifespaces and workplaces,                                               

transitioning out of the coronacoaster period.

a place beyond belief

What will be good enough?

What will no longer be good enough?

How far are you willing to be an actor, not just a rider,

on this new rollercoaster,

as we collaborate with others from societies and cultures, generations and perspectives, identities and orientations which are different from ours?

I call this place beyond belief, the MULTILOGUE.

It’s a space where we remember there are things we don’t see

and blind spots about what we don’t know.

It’s a space we can create together anew

but only if we are willing to listen with NAKEDLY OPEN hearts, 

be BRUTALLY HONEST with ourselves, 

and melt away the stubborn protective layers

of defending our old ways of being and doing.

Only YOU can step up, and step in, to the next step.

Maybe the other will meet you there. Maybe they will dance with you.

Do you want to know more about the MULTILOGUE?

See the preliminary article: Hale, Nikola, “Multilogue: an unalienated environment for collaboration in diversities”, MONDIAL, 2021, ISSN 1867-0253, www.mondial-journal.de.  Order from office@sietar.de. 

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