Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Resignifying the Conflict; Reliving it in Peace

Key insights at the Butterfly Model Workshop and the activity "unearthing words".

Last July 9th, a new living pole about peacebuilding started up near the historical basque town of Gernika. 18 of us, long-term agents in conflict resolution, holistic communication and non-violent context design, were summoned up by Yago Abeledo. He asked us to test his  Butterfly Model. It was a living lab to deepen into the many connections enabled by the Model, among others: Lederach's "Framework for peacebuilding" proposals, Tolle's practice of "The power of  Now", Mindell's "Process Work" methodologies, Ghandi's Non-violent actions, Wheatley's New Leadership science, Sheldrake's "Morphic Resonance" theory, Early's narrative of emotions, Weaver's self-perception skills, and perennial wisdom, both eastern and western. "BOTH, AND": this could sum up the complex, integrative, creative and transforming exploration we shared; it was no mind game, we dealt with that kind of pain that roots in one's own identity, and takes courage to let go.

Yago maps several parallel processes in his Butterfly Model. Structural, Historical (past), Strategic (future) and Intrapersonal processes, associated to any conflict or trauma, mirror in one another. In other words, present pain, felt by a person, is a reflection not only of past events, but also of a wounding structure or institution, and of a painful (narrow-minded) future strategy too. 

Processual and Systemic Design of the Butterfly Model, Alex Carrascosa 2014

These four "wings" of the butterfly, when mirrored upon one another, help removing the layers of pain that block personal and cultural awareness and conflict transformation. Getting rid of the old skin, the maggot turns into a butterfly. Narrowness and shallowness evolves. Time and space constraints dissolve at a deeper level where apparent dilemmas are expressed in a non-dualistic mood. A more essential experience of reality refocuses conflict, not anymore as something apart, but as a living part of oneself. It is from the living "Now" where healing, peace and dignity is regained, light shines on the hidden self, and the mortified and trapped ego comes out of its conflict.

Clara Valverde's book "Unearthing Words" 

In order to experience this, we did the following exercise, designed from Clara Valverde's book "Desenterrar las palabras" ("Unearthing words", where this author, nurse and activist, reveals how traumas from political violence in 20th century Spain has been transmitted to the current generation). We extracted some headlines from the book, like: "No one has written the stories that form History", "We live with the fear that something is about to happen", "Unconscious transmission of trauma does not break down", or "The word "sorry" brings us nearer to ourselves". Reading this, we did remember mass grave exhumations of the spanish civil war carried out by Ferrandiz; results of the truth comissions in Bosnia and Rwanda; biographies of Auswitz survivors collected at the Shoah project; and everyone, his/her own legacies of violent death and truthful life. Inhaling slowly, every participant moved closer to his/her own most appealing headline, which were scattered on the floor, resembling unearthed words. Unearthed but still vibrating in our own biographies, genealogies and identities. Then, participants who happened to be nearby, shared about the resonance of the headlines in their own lives. A group circle helped us reflect upon similar experiences, from all points of view, observing how past conflicts pass through time and space, to the here and now, where, finally, we have the power to pacify them.

Participants during the exercise "unearthing words"

This exercise and many others, rooted down the practice of the Butterfly Model in our spontaneous turn up of persons, stories, knowledge and experience. Thus, whatever identity is under check, the chance for integral conflict transformation is at hand. Peace is at hand. We can let pain go and pay attention to life now. We are invited to live beyond dualism and fear, exploring and naming the echo of a tough event, as present in a wounded current structure, or designed in a blind strategy or somatized in the body. When the body heals, the eyes open to visualize a better future, and the hands, to build a fair structure to enable it. We change our present to dignify that tough event and resignify it in peace. That's what we did.

It was a present. Thanks. 

Borja Izaola
Architect, Anthropologist and Systemic Coach