Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Faith and Multidimentional Practice in Conflict Resolution

This book includes moments of both ordinary and extraordinary practice by excellent practitioners who intervene in conflicts professionally. Crossing a military checkpoint with her companions at risk, Louise Diamond believes she was able to bring her pres- ence to bear in a way that transformed hostility into humanity in the soldier on guard. Daniel Bowling, with characteristic artistry and humility, reflects on what happened when he lost mindfulness in a particular case, and also how he regained it, and how he changed himself in a way that changed the case. M. Brandon Sipes talks about coaching a party in a congregational conflict to approach one of the other and most difficult parties, not with arguments or facts, but with an inquiry into his deep commitments, in a way that transformed the conflict. Julia Morelli shares a moment of body awareness that enabled her to change her physical presence in a way that shifted everyone else in the conflict. Christopher Fitz describes a time when physically playing through incidents using Playback Theatre gave the community he was working with new insight into tense racial dynamics. Joy Meeker describes following powerful emotional cues into a deeper layer of conflict to reveal the heart of a workplace dispute, and gently revealing structural inequality playing itself out in the conflict, so it became visible to all parties and was engaged positively. John Paul Lederach, Louise Diamond, and myself in my role as editor invite the field to take a step beyond under- standing that moments of artistry like this exist, to asking what some of the elements producing them may be, and how we can support, teach, and train students and trainees to do more profound, meaningful, and transformative practice intervention.

This is not a small task. Practitioners in the field of conflict engage- ment take on an extraordinary job. We have the amazing task of helping people find the capacity in themselves to believe they can talk to their enemies, recover from their wounds, and rebuild their lives and their societies, when all around them are the signs of their previous (or cur- rent) destructive circumstances (Lederach 2005). What enables partici- pants and practitioners to transcend their situations, their norms of con- flict, and move to engage something unknown but potentially better? How do we find it in ourselves to support and foster this? How do we develop this capacity in ourselves and how can it be taught?

I believe that what creates this kind of profound and important prac- tice, in part, is practitioners bringing their whole selves, including their spiritual resources, to bear (...)

(extract from the first chapter written by Rachel M. Goldberg)