Saturday, May 14, 2005

Conflict Transformation

Hi folks-- Bob here. The courses I'm taking at Eastern Mennonite University are radical and life-affirming. As a therapist, I often think of approaching trauma or conflict from a technical or clinical perspective. "What should I do?" "What techniques are best applied here?" Or even, "How can I help?" On the surface of it, there is nothing wrong with these questions, and much right about them. However, they often are out of sync, that is, offered at the wrong time, or without regard to a larger context.

One thing I am learning is that conflict transformation first requires us to simply be. Before I jump to, "What's the nature of the conflict or trauma and how can I fix it or apply the appropriate techniques"-- before I even respond to it, I must be centered within myself. Who am I in the presence of this conflict or trauma, and how can I maintain myself and be who I am made to be. Conflict transformation requires a certain inner stillness and openness to receive and be with others. This work-- peacebuilding-- is much more about attitude of heart and the spirit of the approach than the content of the approach or the choice of therapeutic modalities. It is not first what we do that brings peace, but who we are. To bring peace, we must embody peace. We must be peace.