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Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You Can Become an Agent for Peace: Transforming Conflict Within Yourself and Others Introduction to a Four-Part Series on Creating More Peaceful Relationships

When someone harms us, human instinct often compels us to retaliate. But when we live with an “eye for an eye” mentality, we often end up blinded by our own aggression. How can we resolve our differences more peacefully? And how do we make peace with our own sense of being wronged?

Answers to these questions come from American Professor of International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, John Paul Lederach, who has widely written on the nature of conflict, its resolution and mediation. He is involved in conciliation work in Colombia, the Philippines, Nepal and Tajikistan, as well as countries in East and West Africa. He helped design and conducted training programs in 25 countries across five continents, and has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2006 Martin Luther King Order of Peace Medal.

“Conflict always comes with vibrant perceptions about right and wrong, experiences of suffering, and seeking for understanding of what has happened and is happening to me or us,” he says. “Good intentions and talking people out of their perceptions does not work.”[1]

Lederach’s work led him to create a method for transforming conflict into workable terms, which he describes in his book The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace. He says that to transcend conflict we must be willing to embrace four core principles.

  1. The capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies
  2. The ability to cultivate and sustain curiosity about the situation, rather than making assumptions
  3. A commitment to the creative act of becoming open to new understanding of the situation
  4. A willingness to take the risks necessarily to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve a peaceful resolution

Could the same peacemaking principles that heal fragmented societies help mend personal disputes? Absolutely. Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll explore each of Leberach’s principles and their application to making peace within yourself and your family.

Becoming an agent of peace in your family doesn’t mean giving in, being weak, or becoming complacent. Even when anger makes us feel strong, it is often really hurting us. To paraphrase Buddhist philosophy: Holding onto anger and aggression is like picking up a hot coal to throw at your enemy. Whether or not you hit your opponent, you will definitely burn yourself. Ultimately, initiating a more peaceful process to transform conflict can be the best way to take care of yourself.

 


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