11/1/17 Middle East Peacemaking, One Inch at a Time

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To set the stage for today's incubator meeting, the group had a short discussion about conflict resolution before handing over the mic to our presenter, Dr. Rick Martin. The question each of us responded to was "How do you resolve conflicts with another person? What strategies or frameworks of thought do you call upon?" This was a unique experience; it's not every day that we are able to get some insight into what the person we are arguing with could possibly be thinking! Our participants shared a range of perspectives--many of us saw value in walking away from a conflict when possible, being able to distinguish between a conflict that is worth engaging in versus one that is not, and taking time to calm down before confronting another person. Most of us try to take the other person's point of view although, as one of our participants wittily put it, "You can never totally be in someone's shoes. If you are, that means you are stealing their shoes."

Dr. Rick shared with us his experience of "ducking bullets for peace" in Israel-Palestine, something he has been doing for 13 years. When questioned about how he manages to take on their incredible challenge, he pointed to courage. He recalls needing courage in order to bring himself to walk into the Palestinian mayor's office and ask him if he would be interested in making peace. If it doesn't work the first time, Dr. Rick advises us to "keep knocking." "We will not have peace until the peace lovers are wiling to take chances--duck pullets, dodge knives, avoid fast moving vehicles--for peace." Dr. Rick also highlighted the importance of having a sense of humor and getting the person on the other side of the conflict to laugh--a strategy that may not cross our mind during a conflict, but one that could really have a huge influence on how the conflict goes.

We probed Dr. Rick a little further on whether peaceful conflict resolution is really always a viable possibility. He seems to think so. Human relationships don't go bad because people are bad or good, or because certain topics can't be talked about; "They go bad because they don't take the steps to talk about a difficult conflict in a peaceful way." As a group, we came to the conclusion that we should understand that others come from different perspectives, identities, and opinions, and "once we get to know each other, we can appreciate the divinity of each person." As one of our participants beautifully captured in a metaphor, we each are one individual droplet united together in one collective ocean. We hope to take today's discussion and apply it when we are able to in the conflicts in our own lives to shift the world closer to achieving wholesome peace and love!

By: Daniella Colombo