About the Dialogue Institute
Photo of award honorees from the 2019 Annual Friendship Dinner
The Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma aims to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures in Central Oklahoma area by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.
Dialogue Institute grew out of the need to address the question, “How can citizens of the world live in peace and harmony?” The Institute was established in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Many participants of the Institute’s activities are inspired by the discourse and pioneering dialogue initiatives of the Turkish Muslim scholar, writer and educator Fethullah Gulen.
The mission of the organization is to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.
Dialogue Institute envisions a society where every person views and treats each other with dignity, people come around shared values to promote the common good of their communities as well as the world as a whole.
Issues and Values
What bonds the Dialogue Institute is its members’ and volunteers commitment to shared values of humanity. It is our hope that in focusing on the shared values of humanity rather than our differences, we can help to foster a deeper understanding and empathic acceptance.
The pursuit of social justice is one of the Institute’s goals and foundational teachings. Peace, freedom of expression and religion, tolerance, and equal opportunity, are the values we work to promote through service, education, and dialogue. We believe that these issues touch us all, no matter where we are in the world, and hope to facilitate a dialogue around them in order to better understand the challenges we face in societies today.
The Democracy allows citizens to participate equally in the process of political self-determination. In its ideal form, democracy allows individuals to flourish in all dimensions of their lives. We embrace democracy and democratic values such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion, rule of law and equal opportunity.
We embrace equal rights for women and men as expressed in The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Convention defines discrimination against women in the following terms:
“Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
It is important that women have a powerful voice in the ongoing dialogue about the future of our communities. That is why we support women’s education throughout the world and condemn their subjugation.
Freedom of Speech, Press and Religion
The following statement was prepared by Alliance for Shared Values based on a workshop of social scientists and journalists who analyzed the prevalent views among Hizmet participants on these topics based on their observations and available literature.
Freedom of speech, one of the fundamental rights in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is indispensable.
Acceptance of freedom of speech within international norms encompasses marginal and radical thoughts that are expressed within those norms.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are core tenets of a working democracy.
All restrictive practices limiting freedom of the press including political repression, self-censorship, social and employer pressures are contradictory to democracy and cannot be accepted.
Freedom of Conscience and Religion
Everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience. This right includes freedom to change one’s religion or belief, to worship individually or collectively, and to express one’s beliefs through teaching or practicing.
Representatives and followers of all minority and majority religious groups should have the freedom to make peaceful demands out of religious needs. These demands should be addressed or attended within the framework of democratic principles and universal human rights and freedoms.
Education is the antidote against ignorance and it is the most effective tool for empowering individuals, building cultural awareness, and positively impacting society for generations to come.
We should teach our children the importance of character and respect so that they grow to become contributing members of their societies.
A balanced education should foster common core values, including multicultural understanding, character development and social responsibility. These values equip students with the tools to use their knowledge for the common good.
Mutual Respect and Social Harmony
The Institute works to foster environments of mutual respect and social harmony in communities through its member organizations and partners. We do this by educating people about different faiths and cultures, condemning violence and terror, and creating opportunities for dialogue and collaboration among people from diverse backgrounds. We believe that these issues touch us all, no matter where we are in the world, and hope to raise awareness around them in order to better understand the challenges we face in societies today.
It is our hope that in focusing on the values that we share, rather than on our disagreements, we can help to foster a deeper understanding and more truly harmonious society.
Peace, Stance Against Violence & Terror
Peaceful and harmonious coexistence is the ultimate ideal that unites all of humanity. In an increasingly globalized society, it is important to shift the discourse away from the things that divide, and instead focusing on our shared goal of peace and combating the prejudices that breed fear and violence.
Gulen has also consistently condemned the use of violence in religious rhetoric, and employing political, ideological, and religious reasons to justify acts of terror.
Mr. Gulen emerged as a voice of hope to communities in Turkey at a time of political and cultural conflict. It is in this tumultuous environment that his advocacy began to inspire individuals to uplifting their communities through positive action as opposed to targeting others who subscribe to various ideologies. Today, Dialogue Institute strive to promote peace and harmonious coexistence throughout the United States through charitable works and by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions among fellow humans.
Stance Against Violence & Terror
We categorically reject resorting to violence and terror toward political or social goals. Both violence and terror are multidimensional phenomena. Economic, political, and ideological factors that underlie violence and terror should be given as much emphasis as social factors such as ethnicity, religion and culture. Differences in ethnicity, religion or culture often drive inflammatory rhetoric that fuels conflicts arising from political or economic reasons. Violence and terror violate the principle of the essential dignity of human beings. Violence and terror that target innocent human beings must be condemned unconditionally regardless of the circumstances. Being subjected to persecution and the rhetoric of “having no other weapon” cannot justify targeting innocent human beings.
In the wake of the attacks of September 11, Mr. Gulen was one of the first prominent Muslim leaders to publicly condemn the attacks and its perpetrators. Mr. Gulen also made a similar statement following the recent terror attack on the Libyan Embassy in September 20,2012. His efforts at combating violence have also drawn international recognition.
Good Health & Well-Being
Good health is a crucial component of a dignified life. One important way to contribute to the well-being of others is to help alleviate their sufferings and improve their health condition.
Serving Fellow Humans
Serving fellow humans without personal benefit is an expression of the love of humanity. Charitable work should be done without prejudice or preference, to benefit the global community and humanity.
“The person of the heart, despite his or her own physical and material needs or poverty, is a keen volunteer and altruist, and always occupied and preoccupied with planning the happiness of the people around him. He is always developing, for the community he lives in, the projects of peace, prosperity and welfare, like the beautifully expanding patterns of an embroidery. In the face of the sufferings and miseries experienced by his community and the whole of mankind, with a heart similar to one of God’s messengers, he endures palpitations, exasperations and pangs of conscience.” (F. Gulen, Statue of Our Souls, Chapter 12).
Every individual is equal in dignity and rights, and should have the opportunity to realize their full potential. We work with organizations that strive to empower the underprivileged by providing access to the tools they need to succeed. Whether in education, economic assistance, or care, we strive to create environments where everyone is able to make a difference.
We believe that, in particular, equal access to education is the most important factor in the success of an individual and of a community. The role of education in society is integral to improving the lives of individuals in underserved communities.